Is Hypothyroidism a Risk Factor for Diabetes?

Hypothyroidism and diabetes are two hormone-related conditions that affect millions worldwide. While these two conditions involve distinct hormones and bodily processes, recent research has suggested a potential connection between them. In this article, we will explore hypothyroidism and diabetes, their symptoms, and how symptoms of hypothyroidism might lead to lifestyle choices that put individuals at risk for diabetes.

Defining Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism is a hormonal disorder caused by an underactive thyroid gland, a small butterfly-shaped gland located in the neck. The thyroid gland plays a crucial role in producing and releasing thyroid hormones—mainly thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3)—which regulate the body’s metabolism. When the thyroid gland fails to produce sufficient thyroid hormones, it leads to a slowdown in various bodily functions.


The symptoms of hypothyroidism can vary from mild to severe and may develop gradually over time. Common signs and symptoms include fatigue and weakness, weight gain and difficulty losing weight, muscle aches and stiffness, constipation, depression, and brain fog.

Defining Diabetes

Diabetes is a metabolic disorder that affects how the body processes glucose, the primary source of energy. There are two main types of diabetes: type 1 and type 2. Type 1 diabetes occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas, leading to little to no insulin production. Type 2 diabetes, on the other hand, develops when the body becomes resistant to insulin, or the insulin signal, and often eventually fails to produce enough insulin to maintain normal glucose levels.


The symptoms of diabetes can also vary based on the type and severity of the condition. Some common symptoms include frequent urination, excessive thirst, fatigue, slow-healing wounds or frequent infection, and tingling or numbness in hands and feet.

How Hypothyroidism Impacts Your Risk for Diabetes

Doctors don’t know everything about the relationship between thyroid disorders and diabetes. However, new research has established a strong link between the two. The relationship is bidirectional, meaning that the presence of one disease makes the other more likely to develop. 


One study showed that hypothyroidism can affect glucose metabolism in type 2 diabetes in different ways. For example, low-level hypothyroidism can result in insulin resistance due to a decreased rate of insulin-stimulated glucose related to genetic issues. Additionally, the physiological need for insulin was decreased due to kidney issues, thus contributing to hypothyroidism and diabetes. Again, insulin resistance has been linked to hypothyroidism as it’s been shown peripheral muscles become less sensitive to insulin under hypothyroid conditions. Numerous authors have established a direct link between insulin resistance and hypothyroidism.


While this evidence for a hypothyroidism-diabetes connection comes with a lot of medical terminology, the point is this: Hypothyroidism is a risk factor for diabetes and vice versa.

Secondary Risk Factors Between Hypothyroidism and Diabetes

Lifestyle factors play a role in the development of both hypothyroidism and diabetes. While these lifestyle factors are not always direct causes, it’s important to consider how your responses to one condition impact the other. If you are searching for “Is hypothyroidism a risk factor for diabetes,” then you’ll want to consider how functional medicine can help you live a healthier life and avoid chronic disease.

  • Weight Gain

  • Hypothyroidism often leads to unexplained weight gain due to a sluggish metabolism. The weight gain, combined with fatigue and low energy levels, might deter individuals from engaging in physical activity, increasing the risk of developing insulin resistance—a key factor in type 2 diabetes.

  • Low Motivation and Depression

  • Hypothyroidism can lead to a change in mood. Over time, people who are depressed and unmotivated don’t make the changes necessary to stop the progression of diabetes. It’s important to work with a health professional who can support you and educate you along the process.

  • Diet and Nutrition

  • Fatigue caused by hypothyroidism can influence dietary habits, leading to a preference for comfort foods high in sugars and unhealthy fats. This unhealthy diet can contribute to obesity and increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Learn More about Your Hormones and Diabetes

While hypothyroidism and diabetes are different hormonal disorders, they share many connections. It seems that the relationship is bidirectional, and having one condition is a risk factor for the other. As research progresses, further understanding of the link between these disorders may lead to improved preventive measures and treatment strategies.


It is essential to recognize the symptoms of hypothyroidism early on and seek proper medical attention to manage the condition effectively. Adopting a healthy lifestyle that includes regular physical activity and a balanced diet can reduce the risk of diabetes and improve overall well-being. 


Are you in need of professional guidance and support as you navigate your journey toward better health? Take your first steps toward working with Dr. Dan Lukaczer today!