What’s the connection between diabetes and thyroid disease?

It’s well established that having certain health conditions increases the risk of developing diabetes. For instance, people who are obese, suffer from high blood pressure or have high cholesterol are more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes.

What doesn’t get quite as much attention is the link between diabetes and thyroid disorders. It is not uncommon for someone to have both thyroid disease and diabetes. In fact, if you have diabetes, your chances of developing thyroid problems increase. Additionally, if you’re living with thyroid disease, your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes increases - particularly if you are overweight or obese.

In fact, in a 2022 review and meta-analysis published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, researchers examined the results of six previous studies into the possible connection between thyroid function and diabetes. They found that having hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid) increased the risk of being newly diagnosed with diabetes by a staggering 25%.

What is the thyroid?

The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped organ located at the base of the neck that plays an important role in regulating many of the body’s vital functions. One of the thyroid’s key responsibilities is regulating metabolism! We all know that diabetes is a metabolic condition, so there’s the basis for a connection right there.

When a person develops thyroid disease, it can interfere with the body’s normal metabolism and impact how effectively the body processes glucose (blood sugar) and turns it into energy. Therefore, when you have thyroid problems it makes it more likely for Type 2 diabetes to develop. Additionally, if you already have diabetes, developing a thyroid condition can make it more difficult to control blood sugar and manage your disease. Well get more into this in the next section.

There are two primary types of thyroid disease:

Hyperthyroidism is an overactive thyroid that produces too much hormone and speeds up the body’s metabolism. Some common symptoms of hypothyroidism include weight loss, tremors in the hands, and a rapid heartbeat.

Hypothyroidism occurs when the gland does not produce enough thyroid hormone to regulate metabolism. The symptoms of hypothyroidism may not be apparent in the early stages, but eventually include fatigue, weight gain, an unusual sensitivity to cold, muscle aches, constipation and even depression.

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, particularly if you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes, make an appointment to see your doctor or endocrinologist.

The Thyroid Gland and Insulin Connection

Because the thyroid gland helps the body regulate metabolism, it also plays a role in how the body processes insulin. The two, as most people with diabetes are well-aware, are related.

As a quick recap, insulin makes it possible for the body to properly regulate blood sugar by allowing the cells to absorb it and turn it into energy. In those with diabetes, the body either doesn’t produce enough insulin or is unable to use insulin properly to control blood sugar. This problem is often exacerbated with the onset of thyroid disease. Here’s why.

Hyperthyroidism and Insulin

When someone experiences hyperthyroidism, metabolism speeds up and so do many of the body’s natural processes. Therefore, any insulin that is produced is eliminated from the body faster than it would be in someone without an overactive thyroid. This rapid removal of insulin means the body can use it to process blood sugar, which causes blood sugar levels to rise, which both increases the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes and makes it harder to manage once diagnosed. Those with diabetes who use doctor-prescribed insulin injections by syringe or insulin pen to control blood sugar will likely find themselves requiring a larger dosage once hyperthyroidism is added to the diabetes management equation.

Hypothyroidism and Insulin

When a person experiences hypothyroidism, or an underperforming thyroid gland, the exact opposite occurs but the results are just as dangerous. A thyroid gland that produces a lower-than-average amount of hormones causes the metabolism to slow down. When this happens, it means that the body’s processes also wind down and insulin may end up sticking around the body a little too long. When insulin remains in the bloodstream for too long, it can cause blood sugar to drop (hypoglycemia), which can lead to dizziness, confusion and, in more extreme cases, a loss of consciousness. In cases of hypothyroidism, a person with diabetes might need to lower a prescribed insulin dosage in order to compensate for the added time insulin remains in the body.

Ultimately, having either a hyperthyroid or hypothyroid condition can impact how much insulin the body contains, and how well it is able to use the insulin to control blood sugar. This, as you can imagine, can throw a wrench into anyone’s diabetes management program.

Can You Prevent Thyroid Disease?

That’s hard to say. Some forms of thyroid disease, such as Graves’ Disease are autoimmune conditions, just like Type 1 diabetes. In fact, about 10% of people with Type 1 diabetes will eventually develop Graves’ Disease. As with many autoimmune disorders, there may be little you can do to avoid Graves’ Disease.

However, diabetes and thyroid conditions are both metabolic problems and we know that they do play off one another and share similar risk factors. For example, if you have either thyroid disease or diabetes, maintaining a proper weight is one of the best ways to reduce your risk of developing the other disorder.

We know there’s a connection between thyroid disease and diabetes. If you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes and think you might also be experiencing thyroid problems, it’s important to see your physician ASAP. The sooner you identify an issue, the sooner you and your care team can take steps to properly address the situation.


We hope you found this post informative and insightful. At Diabetic Warehouse, we’re committed to helping those with diabetes manage blood sugar with a complete selection of testing and treatment supplies at prices up to 65% less than those found at most pharmacies and suppliers.

Diabetic Warehouse is a trusted supplier of diabetes care products and accessories. For more information and to explore a complete range of products, including glucose meters and test strips, insulin syringes, pen needles, continuous glucose monitoring systems, and more, visit