blue tape, syringe and a device for measuring blood sugar on a table

Research Shows Diabetics Have Higher Chances of an Underlying Thyroid Issue

blue tape, syringe and a device for measuring blood sugar on a table

There is growing evidence that having diabetes puts you at higher risk of thyroid dysfunction.1 Both diabetes and thyroid issues involve the release of hormones from the pancreas, affecting how food is processed and stored by cells and how quickly glucose is released into the bloodstream after a meal.

In this article, we take a look at the current research about diabetes and thyroid disorders and the importance of seeking treatment.

What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a chronic disease that affects how the body produces or reacts to insulin. Insulin is a hormone that helps the body use or store sugar. When the pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin, or the body can’t normally react to insulin, sugar builds up in the blood instead of being broken down for energy. This process can lead to many long-term effects, including heart disease, kidney failure, blindness, and amputations, and short-term effects, like dehydration and fainting due to low blood sugar levels.

  • Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition where the immune system attacks cells in the pancreas which produce insulin. Over 1.4 million Americans have type 1 diabetes, and their bodies cannot produce any insulin independently.
  • Type 2 diabetes is caused by poor diet, obesity, not getting regular exercise, high cholesterol, and family history, so it is preventable to some degree through lifestyle changes.

37.3 million Americans—about 1 in 10—have diabetes. About 1 in 5 people with diabetes don’t know they have it. This condition can be difficult to diagnose if you do not already suspect something is wrong. Symptoms associated with type 2 diabetes are fatigue, weight loss, increased thirst and urination, frequent infections, and blurry vision, among others, but these symptoms may also indicate other conditions.

There are three common ways to diagnose diabetes:

  • A fasting glucose test (a finger prick)
  • An oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT)
  • An HbA1c test (blood sample)

What are thyroid disorders?

The thyroid is a small gland in your neck that produces hormones critical for many body processes, including normal growth and development, metabolism, and heart rate. Problems with the thyroid can cause either hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism.

blood sugar measuring device and diabetes test chart

Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland doesn’t make enough hormones, or the body’s immune system destroys the hormone-producing cells. Left untreated, hypothyroidism can lead to chronic health problems such as heart disease, infertility, and depression.

Hyperthyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland makes too many hormones. Left untreated, it can cause anxiety, heart attack, insomnia, and weight loss, among other symptoms.

What is the link between diabetes and thyroid disorders?

According to research studies, people with diabetes have a higher risk of developing a thyroid disorder than those without diabetes.2 Factors such as genetics, age, sex, and obesity can further increase this risk.

blood sugar measuring device being used

Links between diabetes and thyroid disorders can be found in several ways:

  • Thyroid and blood sugar – Excess thyroid hormone increases lipolysis, insulin, and glucagon secretion, which deteriorates glucose metabolism, resulting in glucose intolerance and diabetes.
  • Thyroid dysfunction and insulin resistance – As thyroid hormones are essential for carbohydrate metabolism, thyroid dysfunction can impact insulin production and may lead to type 2 diabetes.
  • Autoimmune diseases – There is a close association between type 1 diabetes and autoimmune-induced thyroid dysfunction (AITD),3 with both conditions having the same genetic background.

It is recommended that individuals at high risk test routinely to catch any developing issues before they cause long-term issues. In addition, it is always recommended that you talk to your doctor about any changes in your symptoms.

What does treatment look like if you have diabetes and a thyroid disorder?

Diabetes is a chronic disease that can usually be managed by taking medication, diet and exercise changes, monitoring your blood sugar levels, and receiving regular check-ups. If you are experiencing high blood sugar levels, your doctor will likely prescribe medication to help bring them down.

Self-care plans for those with diabetes include:

  • Managing blood pressure and cholesterol
  • Not smoking or quitting if a person does smoke
  • Changing your diet per your doctor’s recommendation
  • Getting regular exercise
  • Taking medication, such as insulin
  • Checking glucose levels
  • Working closely with a diabetes healthcare team
  • Losing weight

When diabetes is paired with an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) or overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism), your doctor will need to prescribe treatment for the specific thyroid issue.

These treatments may include:

  • Antithyroid drugs
  • Radioactive iodine
  • Beta-blockers
  • Surgery

If you believe you are at risk for one of these conditions but haven’t been tested, talk with your doctor about testing today. Diabetes increases your risk for several health complications, including heart disease, stroke, blindness, kidney failure, and nerve damage. It’s also important to remember that hypothyroidism can lead to heart problems such as angina pectoris and atherosclerosis, while hyperthyroidism can lead to sudden cardiac death or cardiomyopathy.

What should I do if I think I have either diabetes, a thyroid disorder, or both?

If you have undiagnosed diabetes, you may feel fatigued without knowing why. Hypothyroidism can cause fatigue because your body is simply not getting enough energy to function properly. Hyperthyroidism, on the other hand, speeds up your metabolism, making it difficult for you to gain weight but resulting in a great deal of energy.

If you think you might have either diabetes or a thyroid disorder, the first step is to get tested. Testing is usually done at a hospital or clinic. Although you can now obtain DIY test kits, these options are not a replacement for a professionally administered test. Your doctor will need the results of a comprehensive lab test to make a diagnosis or prescribe treatment.

If you have a busy schedule and are having trouble making time to visit a clinic, you can opt for concierge medical services. These services send a licensed medical professional to your home to administer testing, interpret your results, and recommend a course of treatment.

Schedule your at home Thyroid Test

An in-home test is the most convenient way to determine if your thyroid is functioning properly. One of our licensed nurses will bring your appointment to you. Once your results are in, we will help you understand them and recommend your next steps.

Make an appointment by clicking the button below or giving us a call!


Diabetes and thyroid issues are serious conditions that can lead to long-term health consequences if left untreated. Testing for individuals at high risk for these conditions is crucial so they can get the appropriate treatment and prevent long-term health issues.

Consider contacting a concierge service to get tested from the comfort of your own home. They will perform all necessary lab tests in just one visit. Once your results are in, your doctor will be able to establish the next steps for anyone that has been diagnosed with either condition.

Lab Testing - Frequently Asked Questions

Why is it important to do lab tests occasionally?

It is important to do lab tests occasionally because they can provide valuable information about an individual's health and help to identify potential health issues early on. Lab tests can measure a wide range of factors, including blood count, cholesterol levels, liver and kidney function, and hormone levels, and can provide insight into an individual's overall health and wellness. Additionally, lab tests can help to diagnose and monitor the progression of certain medical conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease, and can help to identify any potential health risks or concerns. By doing lab tests occasionally, individuals can take proactive steps to maintain their health and wellbeing and reduce the risk of potential health problems in the future.

What does a routine blood test cover?

A routine blood test is used to check for a range of things, including your blood count and the levels of certain chemicals and substances in your blood. Blood tests can also be used to check how well certain organs, such as your liver and kidneys, are functioning.

How is a blood sample collected for lab testing?

A blood sample for lab testing is typically collected through a process called venipuncture, which involves inserting a small needle into a vein to draw blood. This is usually done on the inside of the elbow or the back of the hand.

What is the cost of a lab test?

In general, the cost of a lab test can range from a few dollars to several hundred dollars. It is always best to consult with your doctor or healthcare provider to get an accurate estimate of the cost of a lab test.

Read More: Lab Testing FAQ


[1] Peters KE. - Prevalence and incidence of thyroid dysfunction in type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes and latent autoimmune diabetes of adults: The Fremantle Diabetes Study Phase II.;

[2] Biondi B. - Thyroid Dysfunction and Diabetes Mellitus: Two Closely Associated Disorders.;

[3] Frommer L. - Type 1 Diabetes and Autoimmune Thyroid Disease-The Genetic Link.;