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November 26, 2002

Thyroid

Question from Rochester, New York, USA:

My 22 years old sister was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when she was 19, and her thyroid has completely shut down. She has been gaining weight and the doctor wants to do more tests. Is this from her diabetes? What can be done about it? What are the side effects from a thyroid that does not work?

Answer:

Hypothyroidism and type 1 diabetes frequently cluster in the same person. They are both autoimmune diseases.

The good news about the hypothyroidism is that it is relatively easy to replace thyroid hormone in patients where the thyroid cannot make sufficient hormone any longer. The symptoms of hypothyroidism are relatively non-specific. They include weight gain, fatigue, dry skin, swelling of the hands and face, yellowing of the skin, and hoarseness. The treatment includes the use of medication that is taken by mouth once a day.

JTL