Learn about thyroid disease and diabetes from AboutKidsHealth

June is Thyroid Awareness Month in Canada. Learn about the thyroid gland and thyroid problems with diabetes, from AboutKidsHealth.

Between 20% and 25% of people with type 1 diabetes will develop a thyroid problem, regardless of how well they manage their diabetes or how long they have had diabetes.

What is the thyroid?

The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland in the middle of the lower front of the neck. The thyroid gland helps the brain and body work properly by producing hormones that are important for growth, body temperature control, digestion, body weight and mood.

What causes thyroid problems?

In most cases, the cause of thyroid problems is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks the thyroid gland. This can either cause the thyroid to slow down (hypothyroidism) or become overactive (hyperthyroidism). Hyperthyroidism is rare in people with diabetes. When the cause is an immune system disorder, hypothyroidism is called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, and hyperthyroidism is called Grave’s disease.

What is the difference between hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism?

In hypothyroidism, the thyroid doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormone, which can cause slower growth, weight gain, tiredness or sluggishness, dry skin and hair, problems concentrating, constipation, irregular menstrual periods and weakness. Hyperthyroidism, however, causes the thyroid to make too much thyroid hormone, which can cause weight loss, increased appetite, mood swings, shakiness and sweating, diarrhea and bulging eyes.

Find more information on thyroid disease and diabetes, including how doctors check for thyroid problems and how these are treated, in the AboutKidsHealth article, Thyroid disease and diabetes

AboutKidsHealth is SickKids' health education website, which offers more than 3,500 articles, illustrations and videos on a range of paediatric health topics. For more information on thyroid disease and other health topics, visit aboutkidshealth.ca