Insulin resistance doesn’t usually show signs or symptoms, yet it can lead to major health problems like obesity or type 2 diabetes. Insulin resistance tests are needed to make a diagnosis, but knowing the risks, treatments, and ways to avoid them can help you get ready to talk to your healthcare team.
What is Insulin?
Your pancreas releases insulin when your blood glucose level goes up, like after you eat or drink. Insulin helps glucose get into your cells, where it can be turned into energy. When the amount of glucose in your system starts to go down, your pancreas gets a message to stop releasing as much insulin.
What is insulin resistance?
Insulin resistance is a disease that is linked to obesity and type 2 diabetes. Insulin resistance means your body can’t react to the amount of insulin it makes. Insulin is made by a cell in your body called the pancreas. It keeps your body from getting too much glucose or sugar. Glucose gives you energy. Too much sugar, on the other hand, is bad for your health.
Signs of insulin resistance
Most people with insulin resistance don’t know until they get a blood test. Everyone has times when their blood sugar is too high. But if your body’s sugar level is always high, you may be thirstier than normal, pee more, feel more tired, have blurry vision, and feel tingly on your feet.
What causes insulin resistance?
Insulin resistance is most often caused by being overweight, not being active, and eating a lot of carbs. While they are pregnant, some women become resistant to insulin. Insulin resistance is linked to several illnesses. This includes heart disease, liver disease caused by not drinking too much booze, and polycystic ovarian syndrome. Insulin resistance is linked to several risk factors, such as:
- A history of diabetes in the family
- A life of doing nothing
- Race (especially if you’re Black, Hispanic, or Native American)
- Age (your risk goes up the more you get older)
- Using steroids
- Some medicines
- Poor sleep habits
People with certain family and social risks may be told to get insulin resistance tests. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, the factors that follow can make people more likely to develop insulin resistance and probably prediabetes:
- Being overweight or fat.
- Being 45 years or older.
- A family history of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), maternal diabetes, heart disease, or a stroke.
- Your health problems include high blood pressure and bad cholesterol numbers.
- Not moving around.
- Someone in the family has had diabetes before.
- Ethnic groups like African Americans, Alaska Natives, American Indians, Asian Americans, Hispanics/Latinos, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islander Americans.
- Hormonal problems like Cushing’s disease or acromegaly.
- Taking certain drugs, such as glucocorticoids, some antipsychotics, and some HIV drugs.
- Problems sleeping, like sleep apnea.
The NIDDK also says that too much fat in the belly and around the intestines can make the body less sensitive to insulin. Insulin resistance is linked to a waist size of at least 40 inches for men and 35 inches or more for women, even if their body mass index (BMI) is normal.
Even if you can’t lose weight right now, you can still enhance your blood sugar levels through what you eat and how much you move. Talk to your doctor to determine what will be best for your health.
How do physicians diagnose insulin resistance?
Your doctor will request your signs and your family’s health history. He or she will also look at your weight and take your blood pressure. A blood test is needed to determine if someone is insulin-resistant. This could be done by taking a small blood sample from your finger or sticking a small needle into a vein.
Most of the time, you must go without food for 8 hours before the test. The blood sample will be tested in a lab. Your morning blood sugar will be checked. A blood sugar level of more than 100 mg/dL indicates insulin resistance. Your doctor may also have your cholesterol checked in the lab. High cholesterol is common in people with insulin resistance.
After the 24th week of pregnancy, the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) says all pregnant women should get a blood glucose test to check for gestational diabetes. Also, the AAFP says that people between 40 and 70 who are overweight or fat and may be at risk for heart disease should get a blood glucose test.
Is insulin resistance preventable or avoidable?
You can’t stop or avoid risk factors like race, age, and medical background in your family. Insulin resistance can be lessened by losing weight, working out daily, and eating healthy foods. Eat whole-grain bread instead of white bread, consume water instead of beverages, and reduce your consumption of sugary foods, for instance.
Usually, insulin resistance goes away after birth if you have or have had gestational diabetes. But if you are older, you are more likely to be identified with type 2 diabetes. That should indicate that you must change your food and way of life as soon as possible to put it off as long as feasible.
Insulin resistance treatment
Diet, losing weight, and working out can all help people with insulin resistance. But most people also need medicine. Your doctor may give you the best drug for your health and way of life. If your insulin resistance makes your type 2 diabetes hard to control, you may need insulin, which can be given through a pump or by giving yourself a shot every day.
Dealing with insulin resistance
Living with insulin resistance means changing your living and taking medicine every day. You must be more careful about what you eat and snack on, read labels, and keep your weight down. You have to decide to work out regularly and take your drugs as directed.