An underactive thyroid gland can cause fatigue, weakness, constipation, dry skin and depression. New research now shows that it can also have a negative impact on driving safety.
When thyroid hormone levels drop, the consequences can include clumsiness as well as cognitive difficulties, but most people don’t realize how serious this can be. Researchers at the University of Kentucky tested 32 people with thyroid cancer who had to stop taking thyroid hormone for medical tests. They were given several psychological tests and asked to perform in a driving simulator. Later, after they had again started taking thyroid hormone, they were retested.
The scientists found that low thyroid hormone levels increased braking time, presumably because reflexes were slowed. The impairment was comparable to that seen with alcohol intoxication. Once the levels were normalized, driving ability improved.
[International Society of Endocrinology, June 21, 2014]
The People’s Pharmacy perspective finds this research both fascinating and scary. It is not uncommon for visitors to our site to report that it took many months before their health problems were diagnosed as an underfunctioning thyroid gland. During all that time, they were probably not performing at their best in many areas of their lives, including behind the wheel. Which of the drivers on the road with you is suffering with inadequate thyroid hormone? How is your thyroid doing?