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Question:

I was recently given the wrong strength thyroid medicine and regressed to a hypothyroid state. During this time my glucose readings were elevated and cholesterol levels increased.

What exactly is the correlation between hypothyroidism and diabetes? I am a 41 year old male with a family history of autoimmune diseases.

Answer:

Diabetes and thyroid disorders occur in the same people; either one may occur first. They also occur in the same families. Families may have:

  • several members with diabetes or
  • several members with thyroid disorders or
  • several members with both or
  • some members with diabetes and others with thyroid disorders.

The relationship between diabetes and thyroid disorders is related to a situation where abnormal antibodies occur. It is assumed that these antibodies are involved in the destruction of hormone-producing organs (the beta cells of the pancreas in diabetes and the thyroid gland in hypothyroidism). This situation of abnormal antibodies to internal tissues is called autoimmune disease. A list of conditions that may coexist with diabetes is available in a previous question.

There are several other questions that relate to other diseases that coexist with diabetes. One previous question lists other resources about thyroid disorders that you may want to review.

When someone has hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid gland function) it is expected that the cholesterol level will be elevated, and it's no surprise that your diabetes might be more difficult to control. Typically, though, it's hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid) that causes elevated blood sugar levels.

WWQ

Original posting 14 Aug 96

  
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Last Updated: Tuesday April 06, 2010 15:08:52
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