There is an increased incidence of type 1 diabetes mellitus (formerly known as juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes) in families where Graves' disease or Hashimoto's thyroiditis has been diagnosed. Antibodies and lymphocytes attacking the special cells in the pancreas responsible for making insulin cause this autoimmune type of diabetes.
If you do happen to have both conditions, an overactive thyroid will often make the diabetes worse and more difficult to control with insulin. Once your thyroid condition is treated, though, you will find it easier to regain control over the diabetes. On the other hand, there are not usually any problems of glucose control directly related to hypothyroidism. If true hypoglycemia is documented by low blood sugar levels (often this is inappropriately diagnosed; see Chapter 4) in people with hypothyroidism, it is important to see if the pituitary gland is abnormal, causing both hypothyroidism and loss of adrenal function (causing the low blood sugar). Autoimmune destruction of the pituitary gland, as well as pituitary tumors, might be responsible.
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Diabetes is a disease that affects the way your body uses food. Normally, your body converts sugars, starches and other foods into a form of sugar called glucose. Your body uses glucose for fuel. The cells receive the glucose through the bloodstream. They then use insulin a hormone made by the pancreas to absorb the glucose, convert it into energy, and either use it or store it for later use. Learn more...