Low Thyroid Levels and the Link to Type 2 Diabetes

A recent study found that those who have a low or an underactive thyroid, also known as hypothyroidism, may be at greater risk for developing type 2 diabetes . This risk is there even if thyroid levels are at the low to normal levels.
The thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland that sits at the base of the front of your neck, just below your Adam’s apple. Hormones produced by the thyroid gland — triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4) and they both have a huge impact on your health. They role of the thyroid is to maintain the rate of your metabolism and how your body uses fats and carbohydrates, help control your body temperature, influence your heart rate, and help regulate the production of proteins. Thyroid hormones regulate the way in which the body uses energy. Without enough thyroxine many of the body’s functions slow down and can cause weight gain. Symptoms may not be noticed at first and as your metabolism continues to slow down you may notice fatigue and weight gain. Other symptoms include:

• Increased sensitivity to cold
• Constipation
• Dry skin
• Weight gain
• Muscle weakness
• Elevated blood cholesterol level
• Muscle aches, tenderness and stiffness
• Thinning hair
• Depression
• Impaired memory

Scientists in this study found that low thyroid function increased the risk for type 2 diabetes by 13 percent. People who had an underactive thyroid and pre-diabetes were at even greater risk- forty percent higher, in developing type 2 diabetes. Past research has shown that low thyroid levels is linked to the body’s inability to use insulin properly, known as insulin resistance which is another risk factor for type 2 diabetes.
This study shows that a general screening for thyroid function is needed in people with pre-diabetes and diabetes. Anyone who has diabetes and is overweight and is having unexplained fatigue should be screened for hypothyroidism. A simple blood test can help determine if you have low thyroid and can greatly improve your quality of life once treatment has started!

Source: The Endocrine Society. “Low thyroid function linked to greater odds of type 2 diabetes.”, 2 April 2016.

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