Insulin Resistance Symptoms

Experiencing insulin resistance symptoms indicates that an individual is suffering from inability to absorb insulin in his or her cells. When cells cannot acquire enough insulin for optimal functioning, a series of chemical reactions occur that affect metabolism of proteins, carbohydrates and lipids.

Additionally, insulin influences muscles cells by facilitating their ability to use blood glucose that also helps regulate glucose levels. With the development of insulin resistance, other cells absorb insulin inadequately, resulting in a condition known as metabolic syndrome with symptoms resembling diabetes.

Causes of Insulin Resistance

While geneticists and endocrinologists think insulin resistance contains a definite genetic component, other reasons for the appearance of this condition exist as well. These include:

  • Obesity
  • Pregnancy
  • Severe illness and infection
  • Chronic stress
  • Long-term medicinal steroid use
  • Metabolic syndrome

When these conditions are treated or removed, insulin resistance generally disappears, unless irreparable damage has occurred that provokes the appearance full-blown diabetes.

Insulin Resistance Symptoms

Because insulin assists cells in appropriating blood glucose for energy, people suffering from insulin resistance do not receive sufficient amounts of energy. Constant fatigue is therefore the most frequently reported symptom. Additional symptoms consist of:

  • Mental fatigue with memory problems, trouble concentrating
  • Feeling jittery, moody or agitated for no reason
  • Sleepiness following a meal of high-carbohydrate foods
  • Weight gain not caused by diet
  • Menstrual problems
  • Elevated blood pressure and cholesterol levels
  • Appearance of heart or kidney disease
  • Acanthosis nigricans or hyperpigmentation of skin, which usually occurs on the inside of elbows and knees in people with insulin resistance. This darker skin may exhibit a soft, velvet-like texture as well
  • Skin tags, which are growths found all over the body that are non-cancerous, wrinkled or smooth and usually skin-colored
  • Hirsutism or excessive growth of body hair, occurs especially on the face and back. Researchers suspect that when insulin levels are high enough, stimulation of the ovarian theca cells increases production of androgens which results in disproportionate hair growth

When patients present their physicians with this constellation of symptoms, the physician may suspect insulin resistance if the patient:

  • Is overweight
  • Has a sibling or parent suffering from high blood pressure, heart disease or type 2 diabetes
  • Is “apple-shaped” as most body fat is centered around the waist
  • Is older than 40
  • Experienced gestational diabetes
  • Is pre-diabetic
  • Previously diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome
  • Is African-American, Native American or Latino
  • Was obese as a child

Insulin resistance symptoms worsen if not treated with diet, medication and exercise. Complications include development of type 2 diabetes as well as permanent damage to kidneys, the heart and pancreas. Treatment involves taking Glucophage or Actos, prescriptions that effectively increase sensitivity to insulin activity.

Additional medications include anti-hypertensives and medications to lower cholesterol. Doctors also highly suggest getting at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise each day, such as walking or bicycling. Eating healthier foods corresponding to an insulin resistance diet is recommended as well.

Indication of Various Disorders

Indication of Various DisordersSigns of hyperinsulinemia, or insulin resistance symptoms, may also indicate the presence of certain disorders such as Addison’s disease, Cushing’s syndrome or Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. A relatively rare disorder affecting the endocrine system, Addison’s disease occurs when adrenal glands are incapable of generating sufficient amounts of steroid hormones.

Symptoms of Addison’s mirror those of insulin resistance such as fatigue, mood changes and acanthosis nigricans. Neglecting to detect Addison’s may result in eventual coma and death. Cushing’s syndrome and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis also present symptoms resembling insulin resistance that include rapid weight gain, jitteriness and hypertension.

Prevention of insulin resistance symptoms involves adopting a preemptive attitude towards maintaining good health by eating balanced meals, exercising, not smoking and keeping weight in proportion to height. Engaging in these activities also reduces the risk of developing diabetes or high blood pressure during the aging process as well.


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