What Is Insulin Resistance?
Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas that functions in the body to help regulate blood sugar, control metabolism, and regulate cellular growth.
Insulin resistance occurs when the body's cells become resistant to the effects of insulin. This results in a need for higher levels of insulin for the body to function properly. The pancreas attempts to compensate by producing more insulin until it can no longer produce enough to meet the body’s needs and blood sugar levels rise.
What Are Symptoms of Insulin Resistance?
Most people who have insulin resistance have no symptoms and do not know they are insulin resistant.
If not treated, insulin resistance may lead to conditions such as:
What Causes Insulin Resistance?
Causes of insulin resistance include:
- Genetic factors
- Certain medications
- Metabolic syndrome
- Obesity/overweight with a body mass index (BMI) more than 25 kg/m2
- Infection or severe illness
- Steroid use
- Older age
- Sleep problems, such as sleep apnea
Risk factors for developing insulin resistance include:
- Men with waist measurements greater than 40 inches or women with waist measurements greater than 35 inches
- Age over 40 years
- Ethnicity: Latino, African American, Native American, or Asian American
- A history of high blood pressure, high blood triglycerides, low HDL cholesterol, arteriosclerosis (or other components of the metabolic syndrome)
- Having close family members with type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, or arteriosclerosis
- Past gestational diabetes
- Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
- Acanthosis nigricans
How Is Insulin Resistance Diagnosed?
Insulin resistance is diagnosed with a patient history and a physical examination, and laboratory tests such as:
- Fasting blood glucose
- Insulin levels
What Is the Treatment for Insulin Resistance?
Treatment for insulin resistance involves lifestyle changes and medications.
Lifestyle changes to treat insulin resistance include:
Medications used to treat insulin resistance include: