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Hypothyroidism and Hypoglycemia Relationship

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Before diving deeper into the relationship between hypothyroidism and hypoglycemia, it is better to understand the mechanism of each condition first.

What Is Hypothyroidism?

In the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, David Cooper, Michael McDermott, and Leonard Wartofsky (2004) hypothyroidism was described as a condition, which involves having an underactive thyroid. Hypothyroidism weakens thyroid function, thereby causing the organ not to secrete enough thyroid hormones for the body.

Thyroid hormones regulate the metabolism of a person. Low levels of such hormones can cause tiredness, mental depression, dryness of the skin and hair, and menstrual irregularities for women. If left untreated, hypothyroidism can lead to decreased performance of the psychological and physical health of a person.

What Is Hypoglycemia?

In a paper published by Stephen N. Davis and Guido Lastra-Gonzalez (2008), the authors described hypoglycemia as a condition wherein the blood sugar, or medically termed as blood glucose, becomes very insufficient for the body, thereby reducing the normal brain and bodily functions.

Blood sugar levels should be monitored and maintained within the normal range. Without enough glucose, the brain’s function may fail, leading to cases of unconsciousness, episodes of seizures, or worse, a state of coma.

How are Hypothyroidism And Hypoglycemia Linked With Each Other?

The hypothyroidism and hypoglycemia relationship can be explained thoroughly by discussing how hypothyroidism can cause hypoglycemia and what the mechanism is behind why hypoglycemia can also precipitate hypothyroidism.

Understanding how the hormones work can elucidate the truth behind the hypothyroidism and hypoglycemia relationship. Having decreased levels of thyroid hormones can bring about hormonal, biochemical, and nervous system abnormalities.

The abnormalities will consequently lead to lower glucose levels since the body can use up the insulin in a prolonged rate.

Insulin is a hormone released by the pancreas that is responsible for converting sugar from the food you eat. Through insulin, the body can prevent the required blood sugar from getting too high (hyperglycemia) or too low (hypoglycemia). Given that hypothyroidism already compromised the thyroid, there would be a higher chance that the stored glucose in the body would tend to decrease.

In a paper published by Sanjay Kalra, Ambika Gopalakrishnan Unnikrishnan, and Rakesh Sahay (2014), the researchers explored the hypoglycemic side of hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism impaired two processes, namely the gluconeogenesis and glycogenolysis. These two processes involve the formation of glucose in the body. Thus, their impairment would delay the recovery of a patient from hypoglycemia.

The specifics surrounding the hypothyroidism and hypoglycemia relationship continue to unveil as the researchers also highlighted in the same study how hypothyroidism affects the gastrointestinal system of a hypoglycemic person. Reduced thyroid function would mean slow emptying time of the contents of the stomach, thereby decreasing the absorption of the glucose into the bloodstream.

Moreover, if a person has a decreased thyroid function, cells in the body are not exactly sensitive to glucose. Even though eating would increase the glucose intake in your body, since the uptake is slow, the patient will still experience hypoglycemia.

Another justification of hypothyroidism and hypoglycemia relationship would involve a hormone called cortisol. Since the body is programmed to meet equilibrium at all times, low blood sugar means that the body needs to do something to bring it back to normal. In response to this, the body will secrete cortisol to signal the liver to produce more glucose.

However, in patients with hypoglycemia, the continuous release and use of cortisol would quash the pituitary function leading to the dysfunction of the thyroid gland. Thus, hypoglycemia can significantly suppress the role of the thyroid leading to hypothyroidism.

How Can Hypothyroidism And Hypoglycemia Combo be Prevented?

These two are considered lifetime conditions, so if you want to prevent them, you should incorporate lifestyle changes into your daily life. Eating healthy and balanced meals would be the number one thing to do to lower the risk of having both hypothyroidism and hypoglycemia.

Physical activities and regular exercising can also help you delay the development of such conditions and reduce the possibility of having them.

If hypothyroidism and hypoglycemia are already present, the best thing to do is to stick to the treatment regimen that your physician implemented for you. Having regular checkups would also be advisable as there might be changes in medication dosage as you go through the treatment process.

Throughout the years, the hypothyroidism and hypoglycemia relationship has become more understandable to the medical community as experts continued to complete several studies regarding the two conditions. Based on these studies, it’s not impossible for an individual to experience having the two conditions at the same time.

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