Thyroid Function & Diabetes: The Endocrine Link

Why people with diabetes should keep a watch on their thyroid function, and vice versa!

Thyroid Function & Diabetes: The Endocrine Link
Diabetes Care | Apr. 6, 2023

As human beings so many things we do are connected or dependent on other factors, with each affecting the other; for instance, you work out when you have the energy (and vice versa), a good mood helps you be more productive at work (and vice versa) etc. Similarly, the human body is intricately interconnected where various seemingly disconnected functions influence each other, often in ways we least expect. And when it comes to managing a chronic health condition like diabetes or metabolic disorders, these links can get a little more complex— sometimes, two seemingly disjointed issues can affect each other.. From dietary and exercise choices to certain medication and stress, if you’re living with diabetes, you are probably already aware of most of the factors that cause your blood sugar to fluctuate and are regularly keeping track of these variables. While you do work hard to avoid drastic dips and spikes, did you know that your thyroid gland/function could also be contributing to these fluctuations?

With approximately 1 in 10 adults in the country said to be affected by thyroid disorders and approximately 1 in 11 adults said to be living with diabetes, being in the know about a possible connection is vital! Interestingly, studies show that diabetes and thyroid disorders are two of the most common disorders related to the endocrine system and they often coexist. Further, they also have been found to mutually influence each other, and having one of these two endocrine system disorders could also increase the risks of developing the other. In fact, 1 in 4 diabetic patients suffer from thyroid disorder1.

Metabolism & sugar levels: A delicate balance

There is an interesting correlation between thyroid and diabetes; let’s delve further into it.

A thyroid disorder can affect your production of insulin and insulin levels. Hyperthyroidism – occurring due to an overactive thyroid gland – increases insulin resistance as well as causes a quicker elimination of insulin from the body due to an increase in metabolism. This can cause your blood sugar level to rise; and for those already on an insulin treatment plan, it could affect your required dosage level. On the flip side, hypothyroidism – occurring due to an under-active thyroid gland – slows down metabolism, reduces insulin resistance, and can cause blood sugar levels to fall and possibly cause a state of hypoglycemia. Both an under and over active thyroid gland can have a considerable impact on a management and treatment plan when living with diabetes.

Similarly, diabetes too can affect thyroid function. Research suggests that people with diabetes have an increased chance of developing a thyroid disorder, with a prevalence of about 10%. In fact, it is said that people with Type 1 diabetes have a higher risk of hyperthyroidism, since they are both autoimmune disorders.

Diabetes Management Decoded.

Tipping the scales in your favor

Like most of the busy inner working of our bodies, the relationship between diabetes and thyroid conditions is complex; however, a systematic approach to thyroid function and blood sugar testing and regular screenings (recommended for people with diabetes and prediabetes), as advised by your doctor, can be mutually beneficial for those at risk for either or both, and allow us to better manage our health and health concerns.

Knowing your blood sugar levels and patterns over time is also crucial, so you can stay alerted to any drastic fluctuations or anomalies. Continuous glucose monitoring is key in helping people managing diabetes to gauge what is affecting their glucose levels and understand their blood sugar patterns. Most importantly, it can help physicians understand how to help you stay within your target glucose level range and maximize this ‘time in range’ – helping you take charge and find the sweet spot that works best for your needs.

Furthermore, a supervised exercise routine and nutritious daily diet can also help with managing the symptoms of both diabetes and thyroid disorders...and overall health too of course!

When health seems to be in a flux, exploring the cause-and-effect connections in the body enables us to get to the root cause of the problem and untangle the knots. Regular testing and tracking can help a physician create targeted and balanced treatment plans for long-term health management, and keep you connected to good health!


1 Talwalkar P et al. Prevalence of hypothyroidism in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus and hypertension in India: a cross-sectional observational study.


Disclaimer: The information mentioned in this document is only suggestive /for patient education and shall not be considered as a substitute for doctor’s advice or recommendations from Abbott. Please consult your doctor for more information.