Insulin Resistance Symptoms

Sleepy sad dog

Spotting insulin resistance symptoms (pre diabetes type 2) before they become a real problem can make a huge difference to your long-term health. In the US, 1 in 4 or 68 million people have insulin resistance. 23.6 million have full blown diabetes (with 5.7 million being unaware they have the disease). 90-95% of these diabetics suffer from type 2 diabetes. Diabetes is the 6th leading cause of death in the US.

With insulin resistance, freely circulating insulin cannot control the person’s high blood sugar, even though this messenger circulates freely. The muscle and liver cells normally responding to insulin’s message become less sensitive and therefore no longer take up glucose from the blood for energy effectively.

For more information see

Function of Insulin

How does insulin work?

Insulin Resistance Symptoms

The following symptoms are associated with insulin resistance. It’s not really clear whether some are causes or effects – a chicken and egg puzzle.

Symptoms you may notice

  1. Exhaustion
    Because the cells aren’t able to take up glucose from the blood, they also can’t convert it to energy via the mitochondria. Therefore, the most common symptom of insulin resistance is fatigue with exhaustion being common. Of course, sleep deprivation, stress, boredom or negative emotional states can also cause fatigue.
  2. Drowsiness soon after eating
    If one gets sleepy immediately after eating can signal high fasting blood glucose. Meaning blood sugar is not well controlled.
  3. Foggy Brain, Poor Memory
    The brain needs lots of glycogen. If sugar in the blood can’t be converted, the brain suffers badly. Fogginess, poor memory, inability to think creatively, forgetting what you were about to do and learning disabilities can result. A clear brain is a fueled brain.
  4. Depression
    We can easily confuse mental fatigue from a brain lacking energy for depression.
  5. Acanthosis nigricans A darkening and thickening (velvety patches) of the skin especially in fold areas such as the back of the neck, armpits and groin.
  6. Skin tags These are common and normal in most healthy people, particularly around areas in contact with clothing. They are bits of skin projecting from the surrounding skin that appear attached. They may be smooth or irregular, light or dark. They might rise above the surrounding skin or have a stalk so that the skin tag hangs from the skin. They are more frequent in people with insulin resistance.
  7. Hypoglycemia, Low Blood Sugar
    Blood sugar levels vary during the day, but chronic or very low blood sugar indicates that blood sugar is not being well controlled. See my diagram on the energy roller coaster.
  8. Abdominal obesity
    A waist hip ratio of greater than 0.85 for females or 1.0 for males or a body mass index (see the overweight calculator) greater than 30. Alternatively, a waist measurement over 35 inches (88cm) for women or 40 inches (102cm) for men.

Medical tests and conditions

  1. High fasting triglycerides often associated with high bad (LDL) or low good (HDL) cholesterol. Probably from the body trying to get its fuel from fat cells rather than blood glucose.
  2. High Blood Pressure – Greater than 130/85.
  3. Fatty liver – fat (triglycerides) accumulating within the liver cells.
  4. Arteriosclerosis – hardening and thickening of arteries.
  5. Polycystic ovary disease . This hormonal problem affecting women is associated with irregular periods or no periods at all, acne, obesity, and increased body hair (beyond the normal bits). High male hormone levels, produced by the ovaries may play a role.
  6. Hyperandrogenism (in women). It’s thought that insulin resistance somehow causes abnormal ovarian hormone production of male hormones.

References: articles from MedicineNet.com website accessed 16th January 2010