Insulin Resistance: Symptoms & Signs

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

Medically Reviewed on 9/10/2019

Insulin resistance means that the cells of the body have become resistant to the action of the hormone insulin. Insulin, secreted by the pancreas, is critical for the body's use of glucose for energy. When the cells of the body do not respond appropriately to insulin, glucose from the bloodstream cannot be taken up by cells and used for fuel. Consequently, the pancreas tries to compensate by producing even more insulin. When the pancreas cannot produce enough insulin, blood glucose levels rise. Insulin resistance is a risk factor for the development of diabetes and its associated complications. Insulin resistance is a step in the development of type 2 diabetes and often occurs years before a person develops diabetes. Insulin resistance has been referred to as prediabetes.

Insulin resistance typically does not produce any specific symptoms and is diagnosed by a blood test. Some symptoms and signs are described below that are often seen in people with the condition due to associated medical conditions.

Causes of insulin resistance

Genetic (inherited) factors are believed to play an important role in the cause of insulin resistance. Taking certain medications can also contribute to insulin resistance. Further, the following conditions have also been linked to a risk for developing insulin resistance:

Other insulin resistance symptoms and signs

Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.

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Medically Reviewed on 9/10/2019
References
Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.
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