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Insulin Resistance

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What is Insulin Resistance?

Insulin is a hormone that helps in the absorption of glucose into the cells of the body as a source of energy. It is produced by the pancreas located in the abdominal area. In some people, the body cells develop decreased ability to respond to insulin. This causes a build up of glucose in the body. It leads to type 2 diabetes in the affected person. It also leads to hyperinsulemia. It is a condition where there is more than normal insulin in the blood. This makes it difficult for the body uses the fat stored for energy.

Causes of Insulin Resistance

The exact cause of insulin resistance is not understood as yet. Obesity and lack of physical activity are thought to be the main cause of insulin resistance. However, weight gain is a part of the effect of insulin resistance to be on the body. Therefore, one has to be extra careful in maintaining their body weight in order to avoid an increase in insulin resistance of body cells.There are other factors that can contribute towards insulin resistance.

Symptoms of Insulin Resistance

Insulin resistance has no specific symptoms. An affected person may realize they are insulin resistant after many years, when they develop type 2 diabetes. However, experts call certain physical traits as a risk factor for diabetes. These include:

  • Dark patches seen mostly on the back of the neck. It may even appear as a dark ring around the neck.
  • Armpits, knees, knuckles, elbows too develop dark patches called as acanthosisnigricans.
  • Obesity is also a physical trait that may point towards insulin resistance.
  • High blood pressure
  • High blood sugar level
  • High level of cholesterol
  • Apple shaped body

These are some factors that may point towards insulin resistance. If you feel you fall into one of the above categories, it will be a good idea to check yourself for insulin resistance. Speak to your doctor and under his guidance undergo appropriate tests.

Health Issues Related to Insulin Resistance

Insulin resistance can lead to many health problems, if not kept in check. Some of the effects of insulin resistance include:

  • Excessive weight gain around the abdominal area
  • Hypertension
  • High levels of triglycerides
  • Low levels of good cholesterol
  • Prediabetes
  • Type 2 diabetes

If one suffers from some or most of the above aliments, it can be called as metabolic syndrome. If any of the above three are observed in the affected person, he/she is said to suffer from insulin resistance syndrome or metabolic syndrome.


Insulin resistance can be diagnosed by conducting the following tests:

  • Fasting levels of insulin in blood
  • Glucose tolerance testing (GTT)
  • Hyperinsulinemiceuglycemic clamp (one of the most important tests that can help quantify insulin resistance)
  • Modified Insulin Suppression Test

Treatment for Insulin Reistance

Treatment of insulin resistance is a difficult job. One needs to control their weight and increase their physical activity. Some may be advised a low-glycemic diet. Medications such as metformin and thiazolidinediones also helps in controlling insulin resistance. One should also make changes in their lifestyle. They should decrease the intake of fats and calories in their diet. Stop smoking to reduce the risk of developing diabetes.

Lifestyle changes, exercises, regular checkups will all help in reducing the effects of insulin resistance. If you are worried you too may be suffering from insulin resistance or metabolic syndrome, schedule a visit to your doctor immediately. Early diagnosis will help prevent many health issues such as heart disease in the long run.

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Written by: Saptakee sengupta
Date last updated: March 02, 2015

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