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.

Conclusion

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.

How accurate are lab tests?

Overall, lab tests are generally considered to be accurate and reliable, but there is always a chance of error and it is important to consult with a healthcare professional to interpret the results.

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 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.

What does routine lab work cover?

Routine lab work typically includes a blood test, which is used to check for a range of things, including your blood count and the levels of certain chemicals and substances in your blood. In addition to a blood test, routine lab work may also include other tests, such as urine and stool tests, which can help diagnose and monitor conditions related to the kidneys, liver, and digestive system. 

Can a blood test identify cancer?

In some cases, cancer can be detected with a blood test. However, not all cancers can be detected with a blood test, and some blood tests can produce false-positive or false-negative results. 

Can a blood test find other particular issues like problems with the heart, liver, or kidneys?

Yes, a blood test can sometimes be used to detect heart, liver, and kidney problems. Blood tests can also be used to measure the levels of certain substances in your blood, such as cholesterol and glucose, which can help diagnose and monitor conditions such as heart disease and diabetes. In addition, a blood test can check your blood count, which can provide information about the health of your red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. However, it is important to note that a blood test is not always able to detect heart, liver, and kidney problems, and other tests, such as imaging scans or biopsies, may be needed to confirm a diagnosis.

What distinguishes a diagnostic test from a screening test?

A screening test is a type of test that is used to identify people who may be at increased risk of a particular condition, such as cancer or heart disease. In contrast, a diagnostic test is a type of test that is used to confirm or rule out a suspected diagnosis. So, the main difference between a screening test and a diagnostic test is the purpose for which the test is being performed.

Why do lab tests occasionally need to be repeated?

One common reason is that the initial test results were inconclusive or unclear, and repeating the test can help provide more accurate results. Lab tests may also be repeated if the initial results were abnormal and more information is needed to diagnose or monitor a condition. In addition, some lab tests are designed to be repeated on a regular basis, such as to monitor the effectiveness of a treatment or to check for any changes in a person's health over time. Finally, lab tests may be repeated if the initial test was performed incorrectly, or if there was some other problem with the sample that was collected.

Does having normal lab test results indicate I shouldn't worry about anything?

Having normal lab test results does not necessarily mean that you have nothing to worry about. Additionally, lab tests are not always able to detect all health conditions, and some conditions may not produce abnormal test results until they have progressed to a more advanced stage. 

What should I do after I have my lab test results?

After you have your lab test results, it is always best to discuss them with your healthcare provider. Your healthcare provider will be able to interpret the results in the context of your overall health and medical history, and they will be able to recommend any necessary follow-up tests or treatments.

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.

How is a blood sample for a lab test collected?

A blood sample for a lab test is typically collected through a process called venipuncture. This involves using a needle and syringe to draw blood from a vein, typically in the arm. The skin is cleaned with an antiseptic solution and a tourniquet is placed around the upper arm to help make the veins more visible. The healthcare provider performing the venipuncture will then insert the needle into a vein and collect the required amount of blood. The blood sample is then sent to a laboratory for testing.

Should I do anything to prepare for lab tests?

It is generally a good idea to speak with your doctor or healthcare provider to determine what, if any, preparations are necessary for your lab tests. In general, it is a good idea to follow any instructions provided by your healthcare provider, such as fasting for a certain amount of time before the test or avoiding certain medications. It is also a good idea to bring a list of all medications you are currently taking to your lab appointment.

Why is it necessary to fast before some tests?

Fasting before certain lab tests is often necessary because certain substances in the blood, such as glucose and certain fats, can affect the results of the test. By fasting, you are allowing your body to metabolize these substances, which can provide more accurate test results. Additionally, some tests require that you fast in order to properly prepare your body for the test.

Will a cup of coffee before my lab test mess with the results?

Whether or not you can have a cup of coffee before your test will depend on the specific test that you are undergoing and any instructions provided by your healthcare provider. If you are unsure about whether or not you can have a cup of coffee before your test, it is always best to ask your healthcare provider for advice.

Can my lab test get affected by diet or medications?

Yes, your diet and medications can affect the results of your lab tests. 

What do the lab test results mean?

The specific meaning of your lab test results will depend on the specific test that was performed and the reference range provided by the laboratory. The reference range is the range of values that is considered normal for a healthy person, and it is used to interpret the results of your lab test. If your test results fall within the reference range, it generally means that there is nothing unusual or concerning about your test results. However, if your test results are outside of the reference range, it may indicate a potential health concern that should be discussed with your healthcare provider.

Where are the reference (normal) ranges for lab tests?

The reference ranges for lab tests, also known as normal ranges, are determined by the laboratory that performs the test. These ranges are based on a large number of test results from healthy individuals, and they are used to interpret the results of your lab test. The reference range for each test is typically provided on the laboratory report along with your test results.

What if my lab test result is outside the reference range?

If your lab test result is outside of the reference range, it may indicate a potential health concern that should be discussed with your healthcare provider. Additionally, the reference range is just a general guide, and there may be other factors that can affect your test results.

How can I improve my lab test results?

There are several steps you can take to improve your lab test results. First, it is important to follow any instructions provided by your healthcare provider when preparing for a lab test, such as fasting for a certain amount of time before the test or avoiding certain medications. Additionally, maintaining a healthy lifestyle can help improve your lab test results. This includes eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and not smoking. If you have a chronic health condition, such as diabetes or high blood pressure, it is important to manage it properly and follow your healthcare provider's recommendations for treatment.

Does having abnormal lab test results indicate that I have a health issue?

Having abnormal lab test results does not necessarily mean that you have a health issue. There are many factors that can affect the accuracy of lab test results, such as your diet, medications, and other medical conditions. Additionally, the reference range used to interpret your test results is just a general guide, and there may be other factors that can affect your test results.

Schedule your at Home Thyroid Test in with Driphydration

Drip Hydration is a prominent medical company that provides thyroid testing in the comfort of your own home. It's a great method to avoid visiting the doctor's office while still determining if your thyroid is releasing the necessary quantity of hormones your body requires to function properly. Drip Hydration appointments may be scheduled over the phone or online, and it is a handy alternative to regular medical therapy.

It's easy to make an appointment, and once you do, a medical professional from our team will visit your home to collect samples for testing. The samples are brought to our laboratory, where we inspect, evaluate, and advise you on what to do next. You may obtain a thyroid blood test straight away by arranging an appointment with Drip Hydration right away!

References

[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.;