January is Thyroid Awareness Month!

As Diabetics, we should get our thyroids checked often, in order to prevent treatment complications, raised levels of cholesterol, and other autoimmune issues. Research shows that there is a strong genetic link between thyroid disease and other autoimmune diseases including certain types of diabetes. In fact, fifteen to 20 percent of diabetics and their siblings or parents are at a greater risk of presenting with thyroid disease compared to 4.5 percent of the general population.

Thyroid Disease…

  • Affects at least 30 million Americans -- some experts say 59 million!
  • Is easily -- and frequently -- misdiagnosed as depression
  • Is at least 7 times more likely to affect women
  • Can be the actual cause of weight gain/difficulty losing weight, fatigue, depression, hair loss, and high cholesterol in some people
  • Is most often due to autoimmune disease
  • In women, can cause infertility, low sex drive, miscarriage, irregular menstrual periods, breastfeeding problems, and difficult menopause
  • Is NOT typically tested for as part of regular blood work in an annual physical
  • Is often overlooked, misdiagnosed, or insufficiently/incorrectly treated by physicians

So the next time you’re at your regular Endo appointment, ask for a thyroid check. Any good Endo would have already done this at the time of a Diabetes diagnosis, but we all know how we need to advocate for ourselves. :slight_smile:

I did not know this. My endo never said anything. Maybe I should ask when I see him in a couple weeks. Thanks for the heads up.

Yes, Jon, this is one of those diseases that many doctors never mention. Usually when one mentions any symptoms that might be associated (or that are highly associated) with Thyroid Disease, we get treatments or pills for those symptoms, but rarely an overall blood work panel that includes Thyroid health. It is incredibly undiagnosed, and a lot of people who are struggling with such things as high cholesterol, could be doing so unnecessarily, because they have an underlying thyroid problem that is not being treated. Thanks for reading. :slight_smile:

Crap…I do have high cholesterol…Now I am for certain going to ask. Thanks Liz

Hi Lizmari,
My Hubby does not have diabetes, he was tested for thyroid by an astute GP and has been taken meds for almost 15 years.; He was complaining about having somewhat of a slurred speech …his tongue felt twisted .
I had 16 treatments of radiation in early 1985 for breast cancer treatment ; 10 years later the same astute GP sent me for a thyroid test ; on meds ever since . I did call the Cancer Control Agency and spoke with an Oncologist ; in his mind no doubt,that my case was " treatment of radiation " related, right in the neck . We are both getting follow up blood tests once yearly .My thyroid meds over the years have not greatly changed.
In my province the GP does give the order for thyroid bloodtest …one does NOT need a prescription/order from an Endo .
PS …another disease not mentioned often in relationship to diabetes is osteoporosis …post menopausel women , type 1 and type 2 are at risk …another discussion . …
Jon 57 not to worry about this one :wink:

That is very true, nel. One does not need a prescription for a thyroid exam, or an order from an Endo. One can simply speak with one’s GP, or many hospitals have ‘wellness clinics’ were you can go in, and pay (say $15 out of pocket), for different things you many want to have checked out. A common set of tests are for TSH, T3, and T4, but people may still want to check with a physician for autoimmune thyroid antibody testing (particularly, if you have Type 1). (Interestingly enough, in families were there is Type 1 Diabetes, it is also very likely to have autoimmune Thyroid Disease.) I don’t think that last one can be done via a wellness clinic. While not all persons with Thyroid Disease have Diabetes, a large number of diabetics will develop Thyroid Disease, and a large number of persons with Thyroid Disease will develop Diabetes. They are sooo interconnected, and so many of the symptoms will interrelate.

Symptoms like:

  • Dry skin, and cracked feet
  • Insulin Resistance
  • High Cholesterol and high blood pressure
  • Depression
  • Constant thirst
  • Tiredness and fatigue, and feeling like your battery is just dead
  • Muscle cramps and frequent muscle aches
  • Memory loss
  • Decreased libido and Impotence
  • And the list goes on, and on...
I'm so glad you had a watchful GP! They can be so hard to come by! :))) Thanks for your post. :)

I was diagnosed with autoimmune thyroid disease 7 years prior to type 1 diabetes. My thyroid antibody levels were off the charts. The endocrine doctor astutely suggested frequent screening for diabetes after the thyroid diagnosis.

Awesome doctor! :slight_smile: Way to go.

Back in 1971 a company doc had me do a redio active pill test. take the pill one day and return for the test the next day. I was put on a thyroid supliment. It was just a small white tablet once a day. The doc said I would always need to take it. I went on an out of town assignment (reason for the Co Dr) and trying to get it refilled was a hastle. Instead of getting it refilled I simply stopped taking it. I saw no reason to continue it anyway. I did take it for about 4 weeks, saw no beinifit or reason to take it.

I found myself hospitalized for diabetes about 8 yrs later.

I have always run a low body temp, usually 97.? to 97.7, but I hit a low of 96.5 this summer, warm weather low body temp, go figure? That was too low for me so I increased my insulin and calories and now, 2 days ago my body temp is back up, also gained about 5 lbs as well. I get cold but I am used to being cold, OK as long as I don’t get too cold.

I had my annual phsyical 2 days ago, doc checked my throat, he found no reason to order any thyroid testing, blood work or the radio active pill.

IN the diabetes center treatment plan it calls for regular thryroid testing. I have been a patient there for nearly 4 years, they never bother with the testing or even mention or ask about it, just words on a form.

FOR the past 6 +/- months my hair has been thinning as well…guess it getting close to Rogain time?


It is very dangerous, long term, to discontinue thyroid medications without proper testing. While there is no way to daily monitor thyroid health, as we do with Diabetes, Thyroid Illness is much like Diabetes, in that it is a silent illness. With time, the magnitude of symptoms accumulate to such a degree as to deteriorate health to bad or worse degrees. Long term, ignored, Hypothyroidism can lead to such cold intolerance as to cause sudden coma, and even lead to death. A thorough doctor should and would always test you regularly for Thyroid health, and sometimes, they need to be reminded. I would urge you to please not assume that just because you feel well enough that you do not need to take thyroid medication. Proper testing and doctor consultation should always be done first.

Another thing not commonly known about thyroid illness is the degree of mental health issues associated with it. I worked in mental health for many years and was shocked by the huge percentage of my clients who had thyroid conditions. Hypothyroidism can cause depression; hyperthyroidism often causes forms of anxiety and the social impact of being “hypomanic” (agitated/“speedy”) a lot of the time can lead to further mental health issues and personality issues. The symptoms both physical and emotional are so wide-ranging of both hyper and hypo thyroid that it often leads to NOT getting diagnosed, or getting misdiagnosed because the symptoms are non-specific. I always encouraged my mental health clients to get thyroid checked if they hadn’t already.

I was diagnosed hyperthyroid (Graves Disease) in 1994, 13 years before my diabetes diagnosis. They were unable to regulate my thyroid so destroyed it with radiation and I take thyroid replacement meds to do what my thyroid was meant to do. I was never told about the conneciton to diabetes. I was misdiagnosed type 2 in 2007 due to my age and when my numbers started to rise after 15 months I started researching to see if I was in fact Type 1 and that’s when I learned that thyroid disease and type 1 diabetes often coexisted.

I am planning to ask for a thyroid test at my next appointment with a new doc at the low cost clinic (not an endo - can’t afford one of those). Just to be sure it is fine (or not!). I have a few of the symptoms but they are ones that could be attributed to other problems but since I am going to go in for my diabetes anyhow, I am going to ask to have it checked. I also want my iron levels checked too.

I noticed discussion on here about what levels to test for the thyroid - something about T3 and T4 and Free T3 and Free T4. Should I ask for something special or just ask for them to test it and see how it goes at first?

You want the Free T4 and Free T3, don’t bother with the ones without the Free in front! When you get your results, don’t accept that your thyroid is fine without seeing the labs & ranges. Your Free T4 should be about mid-way of the lab’s range and the Free T3 should be in the upper 2/3rds.

Thanks for posting.

For those on thyroid supplements, free T3 & free T4 should be tested every 3-4 months because doses may need to be changed. Something I just learned is that blood tests need to be done at least 4 hours away from taking a thyroid pill. No one ever told me so I wonder about previous skewed results. Thyroid supplementation raises BG for many.