Treating the conditions related to Schmidt syndrome is important to avoid life threatening complications.

Schmidt syndrome is a rare autoimmune condition that causes people to experience type 1 diabetes, hypothyroidism, and adrenal insufficiency. People with the condition can experience different mixtures or severity levels of these three conditions.

Schmidt syndrome is also called “polyglandular autoimmune syndrome type 2.” Treatment of Schmidt syndrome involves treating each of the three conditions it causes.

Language matters

You’ll notice that the language used to share stats and other data points is pretty binary, especially with the use of the terms “male” and “female.”

Although we typically avoid language like this, specificity is key when reporting on research participants and clinical findings.

The studies and surveys referenced in this article didn’t report data on, or include, participants who were transgender, nonbinary, gender nonconforming, genderqueer, agender, or genderless.

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Autoimmune conditions occur when the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissue. The exact causes of this immune response in Schmidt syndrome are unknown, but there’s some evidence to suggest it might be genetic.

Data shows that some people with Schmidt syndrome have a family member who has Schmidt syndrome or one of the three conditions that it causes.

There are also a few known risk factors for the condition. Schmidt syndrome is most commonly diagnosed in people between the ages of 30 and 50 years. Females have their condition diagnosed as Schmidt syndrome about 3 times more often than males.

How rare is Schmidt syndrome?

Schmidt syndrome is very rare. The condition is thought to affect about 1 in every 20,000 people or 0.005%. By comparison, the three conditions that make up Schmidt syndrome are all much more common.

  • Adrenal insufficiency affects about 100–140 of every million people (about 0.010–0.0140%).
  • About 2 million (or 0.6% of) Americans have type 1 diabetes.
  • Hypothyroidism is estimated to affect at least 5% of Americans, and researchers believe many people with the condition are undiagnosed.
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The symptoms of Schmidt syndrome are a combination of the symptoms of each of the conditions it causes. The exact mix of symptoms can vary.

Symptoms can include type 1 diabetes symptoms, such as:

Hypothyroidism may include symptoms, such as:

Some symptoms of adrenal insufficiency include:

A treatment plan for Schmidt syndrome addresses, separately, each of the three conditions it causes. Exact treatments depend on factors, such as the exact mix of symptoms and their severity. Treatment options may include:

  • Blood sugar monitoring: It’s important for people who have type 1 diabetes to be vigilant of their blood sugar levels. A healthcare team will teach you how to monitor your blood sugar.
  • Daily insulin: Daily insulin helps regulate blood sugar levels for people who have type 1 diabetes. Some people use insulin injections, while others choose to wear insulin pumps.
  • Emergency insulin: Rapid-acting insulin can help regulate blood sugar in an emergency. It’s also advisable to contact 911 or local emergency services if an emergency should occur.
  • Levothyroxine: Levothyroxine (Synthroid, Tirosint, or Unithroid) is a medication that can replace the thyroid hormone, and it can help relieve symptoms of hyperthyroidism.
  • Oral corticosteroids: Oral corticosteroids, such as prednisone and hydrocortisone, can replace cortisol in your body to help treat adrenal insufficiency.
  • Dietary changes: You may need to carefully monitor your diet if you have Schmidt syndrome. It’s typically recommended that people with adrenal insufficiency add sodium to their diets, and people with type 1 diabetes need to choose foods that won’t spike blood sugar. A dietitian can help figure out the best plan for you.

Schmidt syndrome is very rare. There’s no calculated data on its effect on life expectancy. Schmidt syndrome is a severe condition and, without treatment, symptoms can lead to serious and even fatal complications.

Diagnosis and treatment can help reduce the risk of these complications. If you have concerns about how Schmidt syndrome may affect the life of yourself or a loved one, it’s best to talk with a doctor for personalized information.

Living with Schmidt syndrome

It can be overwhelming to have a chronic condition diagnosed, especially if the condition is rare and complex to treat. But you don’t have to manage on your own. There are resources to which you can turn:

  • National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD): NORD can connect you with resources, help you find care, provide you with educational materials, and more.
  • Global Genes: Global Genes is an organization dedicated to people who have rare conditions. They offer a wealth of resources, including the concierge patient services program called “RARE” that can help you navigate managing your condition.
  • The Autoimmune Association: The Autoimmune Association can help you find a healthcare professional, find support, learn more about your condition, and more.
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Schmidt syndrome is a rare autoimmune condition that causes a mixture of other conditions, including adrenal insufficiency, hypothyroidism, and type 1 diabetes.

The exact cause of the syndrome is unknown, but it’s thought there may be a genetic component to the condition.

Schmidt syndrome can lead to serious symptoms and can be fatal without treatment. Treatment focuses on each condition and can‌ include replacing adrenal and thyroid hormones along with blood sugar monitoring and insulin therapy.