People with hypothyroidism may suffer from impaired driving similar to those who drink and drive, a new research shows.
Senior researcher of the study, Dr Kenneth Ain, and his team from the University of Kentucky and the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Lexington, KY, aimed to see whether or not hypothyroidism hampered driving ability in a significant way.
Researchers conducted the study on 32 patients with thyroid cancer. Study participants underwent preparation for radioactive iodine scanning by stopping their thyroid hormone. The team then told the participants to take a series of neurological, psychological and driving tests while on and off the thyroid hormone.
"We found that hypothyroid patients being tested on a driving simulator had a similar performance to that of drivers with a blood alcohol level above the legal limit in the U.S.," co-author Dr. Charles Smith, from the University of Kentucky, said in a press release. "Physicians should warn their hypothyroid patients to avoid driving until they have been sufficiently treated with thyroid hormone."
The study findings further showed that the patients with hypothyroidism who also suffered symptoms of depression, took longer to brake on driving simulation tests. Researchers found that their performance was similar to drivers with a blood alcohol level of 0.082 g/100 mL.
According to the researchers, taking thyroid hormone reversed all of these effects.
"Our results uncover a potential public and personal health hazard regarding impaired hypothyroid drivers," Ain said.
Past researches have shown that hypothyroidism could interfere with several bodily functions including cognition.
The study was presented Sunday at the joint meeting of the International Society of Endocrinology and the Endocrine Society: ICE/ENDO 2014 in Chicago.