Is there any connection between T2 diabetes and thyroid problems?

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My middle aged son who doesn't live in the UK has had thyroid problems for a number of years. Initially it was over active then when that was sorted hypothyroidism started. 

We don't see him often as he lives in east Africa and he sees a private dr, therefore has no access to the NHS and any advice they might give. He takes thyroxin and goes for regular check ups.  Recently he was told that his blood sugar levels are  high. He is not yet diabetic but I am very concerned that he is going that way. He tells me that he feels permanently tired but feels much better when he goes to the gym, which he does most lunch times. He eats and drinks quite normally and doesn't smoke but has become overweight, i presume due to the thyroid problem? Not obese I should add but he certainly weighs more than he should.

There is no diabetes in our family so I wonder if it is connected with the thyroid problem.  What advice can I give him to prevent T2 becoming full blown. I don't know what tests he has had, whether it was an HbA1c or a glucose test. Probably the former but he doesn't seem to know any results other than what he was told.  Until he told me I don't think he realised the implications of T2, I think he regarded it as something he would deal with when it occurred and didn't regard it as too serious. How can I advise him ?


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  • Posted

    Hi, jane243.

    Although there's a higher incidence of type 1 diabetics developing thyroid disorders due to the relationship with autoimmune disorders, there IS also a higher risk of type 2 diabetics developing thyroid disorders.

    The Diabetes UK (Official Diabetes organisation within the UK) offers the following information:

    The following webpage from the American Diabetes Association also states that there IS a link between diabetes and thyroid disorders:

    Has your son's type 2 diabetes been confirmed with a C-peptide, or similar, test?  I ask this as SOME people can be wrongly diagnosed as type 2 when they are, in fact, type 1, having developed it at a later stage of their life. i.e. take a look at Theresa May, our current Prime Minister.

    As a point of interest, ma'am, the HbA1c test is also a glucose test.  It measures what a person's blood sugar (glucose) level has been like over the previous 3 months, with a slight emphasis on the latter 6 to 8 weeks of that time.

    As your son is taking Thyroxin, it indicates that he is suffering with hypothyroidism (an under-active thyroid).  Both hypothyroidism and diabetes can lead to someone feeling "permanently tired".  Type 2 diabetes can also lead to someone putting on excess weight.  (Years ago it used to be believed that it was being overweight that caused type 2 diabetes, and still there are many 'unknowing' doctors that continue to spout this.  Research, however, has shown that the two MAY be inextricably linked.  i.e. It MAY be the diabetes that's causing the weight gain.)

    Your son, apparently, is already doing the right things to prevent the onset of 'full blown' type 2 diabetes by eating "normally" AND exercising.  Exercise, if it's carried out at a high intensity and for lengthy periods of time, causes the muscles to utilise the glucose that's present within his bloodstream to create energy.  (Shorter periods of exercise actually increase blood sugar (glucose) levels.  This is due to your body being unaware why you are suddenly active. i.e. it could be that you're preparing to fight off an aggressor, or run away from an attacker.  This causes the release of epinephrine (adrenalin) from the adrenal glands, which sit on top of each kidney.  This stimulates the liver to 'give up' some of it's stores of glycogen ... the way it stores glucose ... back into the bloodstream in order to feed the muscles due to their increased activity.)

    Your son is also doing the right thing by not smoking.  Recent years have shown that smoking IS a risk factor for the development of type 2 diabetes.

    Have you any idea whether your son has hypertension (high blood pressure) and/or hypercholesterolaemia (that's hypercholesterolemia for any American patrons), specifically high triglyceride levels?  Both of these are additional risk factors for the development of type 2 diabetes.

    Please forgive me if I'm sounding inappropriate or too intrusive, but does your son have a history of depression or heart attack or stroke?  These are all related to increased risk factors, as are the taking of certain specific types of medication(s) which are known to cause a rise in blood glucose levels.

    Stress and anxiety can also increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

    Some medications, such as SOME steroid-based ones that MAY be used for treating certain specific types of infection increase blood glucose levels, so if your son is taking any forms of medication ... whether prescribed or illicit ... he should advise his doctor of this.

    It's sad that your son's doctor didn't see fit to inform him of what, exactly, his blood glucose level was and what he can do to help himself.

    There's really no point in your son getting 'worked up' about developing type 2 diabetes, ma'am, but if he does develop it, it is imperative that he works hard at keeping his blood glucose levels within, or close to, a 'normal' range.  This is because raised blood glucose levels cause damage to internal organs, blood vessels, and nerves.  The changes that arise due to the development of diabetes-related complications would normally take years before anything is noticed by the sufferer, but once they do, they normally start appearing more and more frequently.  I won't go into details about the complications that can arise, except to say that some can be a real pain ... literally; some can prove embarrassing; and some could prove lethal.

    The only thing I would add is that it WOULD be beneficial for your son to eat a lower carbohydrate diet.

    I do hope the links I provided offer you some advice, ma'am, and although I don't know your son personally, I hope he's able to 'fend off' full blown type 2 diabetes.  (I can't tell you how serious the condition can be, except to say that I know quite a number of type 2 diabetics who have had to have limbs amputated, are on renal (kidney) dialysis, have gone blind, and have had strokes ... I actually witnessed a friend that visits me have a stroke whilst he was at my house.  He didn't recognise it himself, stating that he just felt tired, but I've witnessed a number of people, over the years, having strokes.)

    I wish both yourself, and your son, the very best of luck for a long, happy, healthy life.

    Lots of Love and Light.


    x x x x

     x x x

    P.S. Please don't be offended, or alarmed, at the 'x's'.  It's merely a logo, of sorts, that I've used for the past 40 years or so.

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    • Posted

      Thanks for your reply. I have read the links that you gave and they both indicate thyroid problems as a result of T2 diabetes; not the other way around.

      He has had thyroid problems for many years [probably 15 years] and initially it was HYPER but then became HYPO thyroidism. I believe it started when he was under constant stress in his private life and also at work.

      He is treated privately and has only recently been told his blood glucose is high. He is not yet diabetic I must add but I don't feel his dr has impressed the seriousness of this upon him.  I have no idea what his blood tests have revealed but from what I've read I suspect he is pre-diabetic. I know at this point you have the chance to sort things out.  I've asked him to get a printout of test results and act on them.

      I'm sure his lifestyle could be improved - that applies to us all probably - but it is certainly not bad.

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  • Posted

    thanks to micksmixx. I had hyperthyroid when real stress at work way back about 47 years ago but told mentally ill at that time. now have Type 2 diabetes. I take some medication for that to prevent another "episode" of hospitalisation etc. that has increased my size, particularly abdominal. I am pleased to know more definitely that sometimes diabetes can be making size even bigger...which came first...the chicken or the egg? nice to get sensible dr's explanation.  several other Diabetic type 2 friends also have noticed that they do not get the actual figures back from any the Sts....perhaps it is because different times of days will give a different result thus unnecessarily worrying patients?  many thanks...a great site btw.  xxxx

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  • Posted

    Interesting post and replies. I have thyroid and diabetes T2, as well as heart problems and Temporal Arteritis. - Yep, I have the whole bag of tricks, but I  shuffle through day by day lol.  I was aware Many many years ago that it is all interconnected and depending on how interested your doctors are,  will determine what type of treatment you get offered. Luckily I was seen, believe it or not, by the Pharmacist at my surgery who placed me on medication for my T2 and I see him every 2 weeks to check blood pressure etc etc.   I have also learned  not to go to extremes when eating or overthinking the situation - you  can end up completely paranoid and terrified to eat anything. This is just my opinion as a layman patient of this disease - don't know any of the clinical stuff  etc, just test my blood every so often, stay aware as much as i can from sugary food, bread, pasta and rice, I also take Sukkarto SR every day( form of Metformin)  Blessings to all .. x

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