Insulin Resistance - Symptoms

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What were the symptoms of your insulin resistance?

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What medical conditions are associated with insulin resistance?

While the metabolic syndrome links insulin resistance with abdominal obesity, elevated cholesterol, and high blood pressure; several medical other conditions are specifically associated with insulin resistance. Insulin resistance may contribute to some of the conditions listed.

Type 2 Diabetes

Overt diabetes may be the first sign that insulin resistance is present. Insulin resistance can be noted long before type 2 diabetes develops. Individuals reluctant or unable to see a health care practitioner regularly often seek medical attention when they have already developed type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance.

Fatty liver

Fatty liver is strongly associated with insulin resistance. Accumulation of fat in the liver is a manifestation of the disordered control of lipids that occurs with insulin resistance. Fatty liver associated with insulin resistance may be mild or severe. Newer evidence suggests that fatty liver may even lead to cirrhosis of the liver and, possibly, liver cancer.


Arteriosclerosis (also known as atherosclerosis) is a process of progressive thickening and hardening of the walls of medium-sized and large arteries. Arteriosclerosis is responsible for:

  • Coronary artery disease (leading to angina and heart attack)
  • Strokes
  • Peripheral vascular disease

Other risk factors for arteriosclerosis include:

  • High levels of "bad" (LDL) cholesterol
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Smoking
  • Diabetes mellitus from any cause
  • Family history of arteriosclerosis

Skin Lesions

Skin lesions include increased skin tags and a condition called acanthosis nigricans (AN). Acanthosis nigricans is a darkening and thickening of the skin, especially in folds such as the neck, under the arms, and in the groin. This condition is directly related to the insulin resistance, though the exact mechanism is not clear.

  • Acanthosis nigricans is a cosmetic condition strongly associated with insulin resistance in which the skin darkens and thickens in creased areas (for example, the neck, ar pits, and groin).
  • Skin tags are occur more frequently in patients with insulin resistance. A skin tag is a common, benign condition where a bit of skin projects from the surrounding skin. Skin tags vary significantly in appearance. A skin tag may appear smooth or irregular, flesh colored or darker than surrounding skin, and either be simply raised above surrounding skin or attached by a stalk (peduncle) so that it hangs from the skin.
Picture of skin tags
Picture of skin tags on an adult armpit
Picture of skin tags on the eyelid

Reproductive abnormalities in women

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)

Polycystic ovary syndrome is a common hormonal problem which affects menstruating women. It is associated with irregular periods or no periods at all (amenorrhea), obesity, and increased body hair in a male pattern of distribution (called hirsutism; for example, moustache, sideburns, beard, mid-chest, and central belly hair).

Hyperandrogenism: With PCOS, the ovaries can produce high levels of the hormone testosterone. This high testosterone level can be seen with insulin resistance and may play a role in causing PCOS. Why this association occurs is unclear, but it appears that the insulin resistance somehow causes abnormal ovarian hormone production.

Growth abnormalities

High levels of circulating insulin can affect growth. While insulin's effects on glucose metabolism may be impaired, its effects on other mechanisms may remain intact (or at least less impaired). Insulin is an anabolic hormone which promotes growth. Patients may actually grow larger with a noticeable coarsening of features. Children with open growth plates in their bones may actually grow faster than their peers. However, neither children nor adults with insulin resistance become taller than predicted by their familial growth pattern. Indeed, most adults simply appear larger with coarser features. The increased incidence of skin tags mentioned earlier may occur through this mechanism too.

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See what others are saying

Comment from: Akhtar, 65-74 Male (Patient) Published: May 29

Unfortunately, doctors have never checked the cause why my blood sugar is not in control. I eat exactly what has been prescribed above, but I keep gaining weight, slowly. Last year I was at a place where I had access to a gym. I was on the treadmill, exercise bike for 50 minutes, total, and then weights for another 40 minutes. My weight went down, stomach was in, muscles were visible. My HBA1C went down from 7.8 to 6.1 in two months. Now it is 8.1 again.

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Comment from: Luvnarsbars, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: January 06

I am a 47 year old woman who for the past 6 to 12 months just didn't feel right. Symptoms are severe tiredness, brain fog, no energy, bad self-esteem, weight gain of 10 kg over a year, nausea when I eat and craving for anything with salt or sugar. All blood tests from my general physician came back normal. I went to a naturopath, you guessed it, insulin resistance. I was put on a low carbohydrate, high protein diet to start shifting the weight, vitamin D supplement as I was very low, and a few other Metagenics supplements. Within four days (and I was being very strict with myself and not cheating on my diet), I began to feel a small shift. I was able to exercise for 20 minutes of reasonably paced walking. Each day since then I have felt better. My sleep is still a bit of a problem, but working on my weight has helped lift the brain fog, my self-esteem and my nausea. Now I am walking 40 to 50 minutes most days and feeling so much better in myself. If I cheat and have sweets or a few lollies I can get a migraine almost immediately and carbohydrates just cause so much bloating that it isn't worth it. I spend a lot of money on good food for myself, but having said that, as I don't buy any chocolate, sweets, chips etc., it probably is the same amount if not a bit cheaper. I always have a stash of nuts, protein bars and shakes nearby just in case. This saves a lot of temptation. So far, in 5 weeks I have lost 5.5 kg and 4 cm off my waist.

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