vishuddha clinic logo

What is Insulin Resistance:Causes, Symptoms, Treatment


Insulin resistance might sound complex, but I’m here to break it down into bite-sized pieces for you. Imagine your body as a high-tech factory that needs glucose (sugar) as its power source. Insulin is the key that unlocks the doors, allowing glucose to enter and fuel the factory. However, when you have resistance of insulin, it’s like the keys aren’t working properly. The doors won’t open easily, causing a backup of glucose in your bloodstream. This situation can lead to a whole host of problems, including the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

What Causes Insulin Resistance?

Several factors can contribute to insulin resistance, and understanding these can help us take steps to improve our health:

  • Excess Weight: Particularly around the belly, can make cells less responsive to insulin.
  • Lack of Exercise
  • Diet: High in processed foods and sugars can spike blood glucose levels.
  • Age: Older individuals tend to be more prone to this disease.
  • Genetics: Yes, your family history plays a role too.
  • Medications: Some can include steroids and certain treatments for other conditions can increase this disease

Symptoms of Insulin Resistance

Early Symptoms of Insulin Resistance

  • Increased Thirst: As your body tries to rid itself of excess sugar through urine, it pulls fluids from tissues, leading you to drink more than usual.
  • Heightened Hunger: Despite eating, you might feel hungry soon after meals. Since glucose isn’t efficiently used for energy, your body demands more fuel.
  • Frequent Urination: The body attempts to eliminate excess sugar through urine, leading to more trips to the bathroom.
  • Blurred Vision: High blood sugar levels can pull fluid from the lenses of your eyes, affecting your ability to focus.

Symptoms as Insulin Resistance Worsens

  • Tiredness: Even after adequate rest, a constant feeling of fatigue persists due to the inefficient conversion of glucose into energy.
  • Weight Gain: Particularly around the waist, can occur despite no change in diet or exercise habits, as this disease affects how your body stores and uses glucose and fats.

When Insulin Resistance Escalates

  • Slow-Healing Sores and Cuts: High blood sugar levels can affect blood circulation, slowing down the healing process.
  • Frequent Infections: Elevated glucose levels can weaken the immune system, making the body more susceptible to infections, including skin infections and urinary tract infections.
  • Acanthosis Nigricans: Areas of darkened, velvety skin in the folds and creases of your body, especially around the neck and armpits, signaling resistance of insulin.
  • Skin Tags: Small, soft skin growths may appear, often in areas where skin rubs against skin or clothing.

Navigating Through Insulin Resistance Treatments

Treating this disease often involves a combination of lifestyle tweaks and, in some cases, medication. Here’s a lowdown on how to manage or potentially reverse this resistance:

Lifestyle Changes

  • Healthy Eating: Adopting a diet that emphasizes whole foods over processed ones is crucial. Focus on including:
  • Fiber-rich foods: Vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes help regulate blood sugar levels.
  • Lean proteins: Incorporate fish, poultry, beans, and nuts to support muscle health and metabolism.
  • Healthy fats: Sources like avocados, olive oil, and omega-3 fatty acids from fish can reduce inflammation and support cell function.
  • Low-GI foods: Foods with a low glycemic index help maintain stable blood sugar levels.
  • Regular Exercise: Engaging in regular physical activity is essential for improving insulin sensitivity. Aim for:
  • 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity: Such as walking, swimming, or cycling, spread throughout the week.
  • Strength training: At least two days a week. Building muscle mass helps your body use glucose more efficiently.
  • Weight Management: Even a modest weight loss of 5% to 10% of your body weight can significantly enhance insulin sensitivity. Strategies include:
  • Calorie reduction: Adopting a balanced diet with a slight caloric deficit.
  • Mindful eating: Paying attention to hunger cues and food choices.
  • Regular physical activity: To burn excess calories and improve metabolism.


While lifestyle modifications are the cornerstone of managing insulin resistance, medications can also play a role, especially for those at risk of progressing to diabetes or who have related health conditions.

  • Metformin: Metformin is often the first medication prescribed for people at high risk for diabetes. It works by:
    • Improving insulin sensitivity: Helping your muscles use glucose more efficiently.
    • Reducing glucose production: By the liver, lowering fasting blood glucose levels.
    • Cholesterol and Blood Pressure Medications: Since insulin resistance is often associated with cardiovascular risk factors, medications to manage cholesterol and blood pressure may be prescribed:
  • Statins: To lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and protect heart health.
  • ACE inhibitors or ARBs: To manage high blood pressure, which can be both a cause and a consequence of this disease.
  • Insulin Sensitizers: In addition to Metformin, other drugs, such as the thiazolidinediones (e.g., pioglitazone), can increase insulin sensitivity in the body’s tissues.
  • GLP-1 Receptor Agonists: These medications mimic an intestinal hormone that prompts insulin release post-meals, slows glucose absorption, and can promote weight loss.

Prevention Is Key

Considering how widespread insulin resistance is, it’s crucial to talk about prevention:

  • Stay active. Incorporate physical activities into your daily routine.
  • Eat a balanced diet rich in fiber and low in processed sugars.
  • Keep an eye on your weight, especially if carrying extra pounds around the midsection.

The Prognosis

Insulin resistance varies from person to person. Some might manage it with lifestyle changes alone, while others may need medication. Regular check-ups are essential to monitor your health and adjust your treatment plan as needed.

When to Seek Medical Advice

If you’re noticing symptoms of high blood sugar or are aware of risk factors for insulin resistance in your life, consulting with a Endocrinologist Specialist is a smart move. Someone like Dr. Moxit Shah, who specializes in managing insulin resistance symptoms and the disease itself, can offer personalized testing and advice to steer you towards better health management. This disease doesn’t have to be the defining factor of your health narrative. Armed with the proper knowledge and guidance from experts, you can embark on a journey to enhance your insulin sensitivity and overall health.