Symptoms of High Insulin Levels – Insulin Resistance

Symptoms of High Insulin Levels or Insulin Resistance

Symptoms of high Insulin levels depend on whether the insulin is released by your pancreas as a result of your body’s resistance to its effects or whether there is an increased synthesis by the pancreas gland because of a defect in the beta cells of the pancreas. Hyperinsulinemia is the term used when your body is producing an excess of insulin.

Most of the symptoms discussed here are those of insulin resistance resulting in high insulin levels.

These symptoms closely correspond to the symptoms of diabetes. On the other hand, increased production of insulin levels as a result of insulinoma (without insulin resistance) results in hypoglycemia.

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The homeostatic functions in our body are managed through an organized system that includes the coordination of various chemical factors.

Such chemical factors can be termed as hormones that are released from several glands in our body, such as the pituitary gland or adrenal gland.

One such hormone is called insulin which is a peptide hormone, produced by beta cells and secreted from the pancreas (a gland situated behind the stomach).

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Normal Functions of Insulin

Insulin is an anabolic hormone that serves the function of lowering the levels of blood sugar inside the body.

Insulin manages the metabolisms of fats, carbohydrates, and protein by increasing the absorption of glucose from the blood into fats, liver, and skeletal muscles.

This glucose is then transformed into glycogen through glycogenesis, triglycerides through lipogenesis, or both in the liver.

The synthesis or release of glucose in the liver is prevented by insulin in the blood. It is called an anabolic hormone because it is capable of converting small molecules in the blood into large molecules inside the cells.

Insulin is the hormone that is deficient in the body of diabetics which is why they are unable to manage their glucose levels inside the body.

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What Is Insulin Resistance?

Glucose is the fuel of our body and we need this fuel to function on a daily basis. Since insulin serves its functions inside skeletal muscles, fat, or liver; in an abnormal condition the cells inside your skeletal muscles, body fat, and liver become unable to follow the instructions of the insulin hormone.

These cells do not absorb glucose right from the bloodstream and this leads to hyperglycemia (high levels of blood glucose).

In the case of high levels of glucose inside the bloodstream, a condition known as prediabetes can occur which will eventually progress into type 2 diabetes if not treated on time.

Insulin resistance is the main concern of a diabetic patient. It is very essential to know the signs and symptoms of high insulin levels in order to treat it at the right time and prevent any sort of medical disorder.

Excessive thirst

Typically associated with insulin resistance or high levels of insulin, we find extreme thirst as a symptom.

Since your body’s bloodstream is loaded with glucose as insulin is not working efficiently, your kidneys are also functioning rapidly in order to filter most of the glucose out leaving your body deprived of its fluids and causing increased thirst.

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Excessive Urination

As a result of the above-stated condition, excessive urination is also a common complaint reported by patients.

Your body has the tendency to stick to its normal levels of fluids and nutrients which is why when there is an excess of glucose found in the body, it tries to remove this glucose from the bloodstream as insulin is not capable of performing this task.

As kidneys are working hard to filter the extra glucose out, they excrete this glucose in the form of urine resulting in high urine output.

Extreme Fatigue

Insulin brings with it many complications and another symptom faced by patients is the feeling of excessive fatigue.

Typically, insulin resistance is slow in development and does not show symptoms that are obvious which is why much of them can go unnoticed.

Similarly, insulin resistance can make one feel very tired and lethargic. People usually blame this on factors like lack of sleep, which makes the diagnosis a little tough.

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Recurrent Infections

An increased level of glucose in the blood can weaken a person’s immune system leaving the body venerable to infections. The blood flow to the extremities of the body is also impaired.

As the immune system is weak foreign bodies like pathogens can easily invade and cause several infections and allergies as there is nothing strong enough to stop them. Therefore, the body is susceptible to infections repeatedly. [Ref]

Increased Hunger

The basic consequence of insulin resistance is that the cells are deprived of glucose which they require to function. Glucose cannot get inside the cells because of impaired insulin functioning.

This deprivation causes the body to crave more food as it is the main source of glucose and you end up feeling hungry (especially with cravings for carbs and sweets).

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Acanthosis nigricans (Dark Skin Patches)

Acanthosis Nigricans symptoms of high insulin levels
Acanthosis Nigricans: Velvety black pigmented skin around the neck, groin, and axilla

Following the increased levels of insulin in the body, another typical problem associated with insulin resistance is the appearance of dark skin patches on the body. This condition is brought about by the abnormal reproduction of epidermal skin cells.

A study done in 2016 proved the association of skin pigmentation with insulin resistance. A total of 792 participants were included in this research.

These participants were not taking any medications for diabetes. The findings concluded the presence of melanin indices at the inner, upper, and lower arms. [Ref]

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Unintended Weight Gain

As stated above, insulin resistance deprives the cells in our bodies of glucose. Since glucose is not present as fuel, our body craves more food in order to compensate for the lost energy. This makes a person eat more and more which causes weight gain.

This weight gain can also be because of fatigue as being tired makes a person less active which contributes to weight gain.


There is enough data that supports the link between insulin resistance and high blood pressure. This close linkage can also lead to several cardiovascular diseases and type 2 diabetes.

Recent research done in 2020 studied the impact of insulin resistance on hypertension and type 2 diabetes.

It was concluded that insulin resistance can trigger the sympathetic nervous system along with the renin-angiotensin system.

This incidence is associated with high renal sodium reabsorption, hypertension, and fluid retention. [Ref]

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How To Manage Insulin Resistance

Even though insulin resistance is an alarming condition as it can lay the foundation for other disorders. Nevertheless, it is not that hard to manage it.

Taking baby steps towards a healthy lifestyle can be a good start. Eat healthy meals daily. Avoid saturated fat. Perform moderate physical activity like brisk walking for 30 minutes. Take medications after consulting with your physician.

In Conclusion:

Most of the symptoms of high insulin levels discussed here are related to diabetes mellitus. Obesity and adiposity are important causes of insulin resistance.

The higher the degree of insulin resistance at the target organs, the higher the pancreas tries to release more insulin. More insulin means more weight. Thus, obese patients are likely to have higher insulin levels.

A person who has high insulin levels is more at risk of developing diabetes. This can be reflected by people getting hypoglycemic episodes or becoming hungry and having the urge to eat more calorie-dense food items.

The vicious cycle of weight gain, more insulin resistance, and craving for carbohydrate-rich food items continues.

Some people have a defect in the Beta Cells of the Pancreas. Insulin is released by the beta cells as in patients with insulinoma.

Since there is no insulin resistance, even a slight increase in plasma insulin levels can result in hypoglycemia and weight gain.

These patients develop severe hypoglycemia and may become unconscious or develop seizures as well.

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What do you think?

Written by Dr. Ahmed

I am Dr. Ahmed (MBBS; FCPS Medicine), an Internist and a practicing physician. I am in the medical field for over fifteen years working in one of the busiest hospitals and writing medical posts for over 5 years.

I love my family, my profession, my blog, nature, hiking, and simple life. Read more about me, my family, and my qualifications

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