Hyperinsulinemia is often associated with type 2 diabetes, but it isn’t diabetes as such.
Hyperinsulinemia means that the amount of insulin in the blood is higher than considered normal amongst non-diabetics.
When a person has hyperinsulinemia they have a problem controlling blood sugar, meaning that the pancreas has to secrete larger amounts of insulin to keep blood sugar at a normal level.
How is hyperinsulinemia caused?
Insulin resistance is the primary cause of hyperinsulinemia, with the pancreas compensating by producing more insulin.
Insulin resistance of this type can lead to the development of type 2 diabetes, which occurs when the pancreas cannot secrete the insulin required to maintain normal blood glucose levels.
In more rare cases, hyperinsulinemia may be caused by a tumour of the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas (insulinoma).
It may also be caused by excessive numbers of insulin-producing cells in the pancreas (nesidioblastosis).
What are the risks of having hyperinsulinemia?
There are a number of risks involved in having hyperinsulinemia which include:
- Higher triglyceride levels
- High uric acid
- Hardening of the arteries (artherosclerosis)
- Weight gain
- Type 2 diabetes
The sooner hyperinsulinemia is diagnosed, which may be in the form of pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes, the sooner the risks or extent of the above can be reduced.
What are the symptoms of hyperinsulinemia?
Although hyperinsulinemia often has little clear indicator, hyperinsulinemia symptoms may include:
- Weight gain
- Cravings for sugar
- Intense hunger
- Feeling frequently hungry
- Difficulty concentrating
- Feeling anxious or panicky
- Lacking focus or motivation
How is hyperinsulinemia treated?
Medical treatment, in the form of diabetes medication, may help to relieve the symptoms of hyperinsulinemia.
The root cause of the problem can be targeted and treated by diet, exercise and other lifestyle changes.
In the rarer case of insulinoma, tumours in the pancreas, the treatment will likely be surgery to remove the tumours.