How Is Thyroid Disorder Affecting Blood Sugar?
Diabetes affects the entire body, and this includes the function of our organs, tissues, and glands. So, it’s not surprising that it impacts the thyroid gland as well. Keeping track of the thyroid is recommended for everyone, especially for those with this chronic condition.
This vital gland produces hormones which affect the function of insulin, while insulin is also affecting the gland. In fact, more than ten percent of Americans with this condition have a problem with their thyroid.
A lower or higher function of the thyroid gland can aggravate diabetes and cause many health complications. Therefore, we have to check our thyroid regularly to prevent this from happening.
Hyperthyroidism, or too much thyroid hormone, increases insulin resistance. On the other hand, hypothyroidism, or too little thyroid hormone, raises cholesterol levels. Both of these thyroid disorders raise the risk of heart disease.
Patricia Wu, MD, an endocrinologist, believes thyroid disorders are more prevalent in people with this chronic disease, in comparison with the general population.
Many thyroid disorders involve the immune system. An impaired immune system can cause hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, and diabetes.
In fact, those with type 1 diabetes have a higher risk of Graves’ disease – a hyperthyroid condition. On the other hand, those with type 2 have a higher risk of an underactive thyroid.
Nevertheless, both types of thyroid disorder are present in both types of this disease.
Symptoms of Hypothyroidism
Here are the most common warning signs of an underactive thyroid:
- Weight gain
- Sensitivity to cold
- Dry skin
- Puffy face
- Higher cholesterol levels
- Muscle weakness
- Joint pain, stiffness, and swelling
- Aches, stiffness, and tenderness in muscles
- Slowed heart rate
- Thinning hair
- Impaired memory
Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism
Mild hyperthyroidism could cause no symptoms. Also, they could differ based on the degree. Here are the most common symptoms indicating one has an overactive thyroid:
- Weight loss, despite eating as always, or even more
- Increased appetite
- Tachycardia (heart rate higher than 100 beats per minute, irregular heartbeat
- Increased sensitivity to heat
- Irritability, anxiety, nervousness
- Changes in bowel movements or more frequent bowel movements
- Muscle weakness, fatigue
- Swelling in the neck
- Skin thinning
- Trembling of the hands and fingers
- Sleep disturbances
- Brittle hair
Effect on Blood Sugar Control
Regular thyroid function is crucial for regulating energy metabolism. So, a thyroid disorder could significantly affect blood sugar control in people with this disease.
Even though both disorders, hypothyroidism, and hyperthyroidism, influence the course of diabetes, their effects are slightly different.
An overactive thyroid is usually connected to increased requirements for insulin and worsen blood glucose control.
The excess thyroid hormone produced in the body causes a higher production of glucose in the liver, increased insulin resistance, and faster absorption of glucose through the intestines.
Someone affected by diabetes could have an underlying thyroid disorder if they have deterioration in blood sugar control, unexplained weight loss, or higher requirements of insulin. In some cases, overactive thyroid could reveal latent diabetes.
This chronic disease increases the risk of heart disease, while hyperthyroidism raises the risk of abnormal heart rhythm, angina, worsen heart failure, and other heart issues. That’s because overactive thyroid causes a rapid heart rate.
So, having both of these conditions makes these people more prone to heart problems than others.
What’s more, if we don’t treat our hyperthyroidism, it could lead to excessive bone loss, thus leading to bone thinning, or osteoporosis. This is dangerous as a simple falling could cause bone fractures.
And, those with diabetes who have nerve damage or diabetic neuropathy are more likely to fall because of lack of nerve sensation in their feet.
So, the combination of these conditions can be quite dangerous.
An underactive thyroid is less dangerous than overactive thyroid when it comes to these people. That’s because it rarely causes significant blood sugar fluctuations.
However, it can decrease the clearance of insulin from the bloodstream, so the insulin dose might be lowered.
An underactive thyroid is usually followed by different abnormalities in the blood lipid levels, including increased LDL cholesterol, total cholesterol, and triglyceride levels.
Since abnormal lipid levels usually accompany type 2 diabetes, hypothyroidism is only worsening them. This, in turn, further increases the already high risk of stroke and heart disease among these people.
The fact is, diabetes is closely connected to the thyroid – a gland which produces hormones that are essential for the body’s functioning. So, regular check-ups of this gland are important.
Early detection of a thyroid disorder will enable us to treat it soon and properly, thus reducing the risk of many health problems.