What Is Insulin Resistance?


Quick Answer

Insulin resistance means that the body produces insulin, but does not use it properly, according to the National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse. This condition leads to glucose building up in the blood, as opposed to being absorbed into the cells. When insulin resistance occurs, it can lead to diabetes or prediabetes over time.

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Full Answer

The exact cause of insulin resistance is unknown, but the condition is thought to be caused by excess weight, physical inactivity and other risk factors, according to the NDIC. Most people do not recognize that they have insulin resistance until they have already become diabetic. However, when early treatment is administered, it can prevent or delay the onset of diabetes. Typical treatment for insulin resistance is centered around lifestyle changes, such as exercise and diet.

When someone is insulin resistant, the pancreas produces excess insulin to allow the glucose in the blood to enter the body's cells, according to the NDIC. For many people, the pancreas can produce high enough levels of insulin to keep up with the need and maintain blood glucose levels within a healthy range. However, over time, the body cannot keep up with the demand, and excess glucose accumulates in the bloodstream, causing diabetes or prediabetes. There are no symptoms of insulin resistance, and people in high risk groups the condition should be tested.

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