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Insulin Resistance: When to Be Concerned

Insulin Resistance: When to Be Concerned

Your body needs insulin to function correctly. If you don’t produce enough, or your body resists insulin, you may develop diabetes or heart disease. Here’s what you need to know about insulin resistance.

What Is It?

Your body produces insulin so it can release the glucose that your cells store. Sometimes, your cells stop responding to insulin, which means they retain their glucose. This elevates your blood sugar levels, and creating more insulin doesn’t seem to help. Doctors still can’t say for certain why this occurs.

What Are the Symptoms?

Unfortunately, your body may not display symptoms of insulin resistance for several years. However, this changes as the condition becomes more severe. You may notice that your skin develops dark patches on your knees, neck, elbows, armpits, and hands.

What Are the Risk Factors?

Most of the risk factors fall into external and genetic categories.

Genetically, you’re at risk in the following circumstances:

• You’re of Native American, Pacific Islands, African American, Hispanic, or Asian American descent.
• Your family has a history of type-2 diabetes.
• Your mother had diabetes during her pregnancy.

External factors include the following:

• You don’t exercise regularly.
• You’re overweight.
• You smoke regularly.
• You have high blood pressure.

You may also develop insulin resistance if you have high levels of bad cholesterol, have suffered a stroke or heart disease, or have a blood vessel disease that affects your legs or neck.


If you recognize any of the risk factors or have developed dark patches of skin on your body, you may have developed a resistance to insulin.

Contact your doctor for a test. Most will test your blood sugars over an extended period to see if they fit into normal ranges. Higher numbers suggest a resistance and may indicate that you have diabetes.