Home Insulin Resistance Medications What Is Insulin Resistance?

What Is Insulin Resistance?

by BidRx Team
Wooden hand under a pile of sugar


  • Insulin resistance makes it hard for your body to use insulin effectively.
  • Insulin resistance is linked to high blood sugar levels, prediabetes, diabetes, and a number of other serious health conditions.
  • Potential causes of insulin resistance include genetic conditions, excess weight, being inactive, or having related chronic health conditions.
  • You may be able to reduce or reverse insulin resistance by living an active, healthy lifestyle or using medication to manage your condition.
  • Get the lowest prices for your insulin resistance medications with BidRx.

Insulin resistance is a condition that occurs when your body doesn’t properly respond to insulin. This makes it difficult for your body to maintain healthy blood sugar levels and can lead to serious health complications, like type 2 diabetes. Fortunately, insulin resistance can be managed with the right treatment.

Insulin Resistance Symptoms

People can live for years with insulin resistance before they notice any symptoms. Some people may not show any noticeable symptoms at all. This typically happens when your pancreas increases insulin production to keep your blood sugar levels in check.

Insulin resistance doesn’t go away on its own. Over time, your pancreas may not be able to keep up with insulin production. This causes your blood sugar to spike and leads to more noticeable symptoms.

Signs of high blood sugar include:

  • Blurred vision
  • Excessive thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Headaches
  • Skin infections
  • Slow healing cuts or sores

Some people don’t realize they have insulin resistance until they develop another condition, like prediabetes. Prediabetes can cause changes to your skin, such as the development of skin tags or darkened skin patches on your neck or armpits.

Insulin Resistance Causes and Risk Factors

Researchers are still working to determine the exact cause of insulin resistance. They’ve identified several risk factors and conditions that can contribute to developing insulin resistance. 

Anyone can develop insulin resistance. However, the leading risk factors appear to be being physically inactive and having excess abdominal fat. 

Lifestyle Factors

Researchers have identified several lifestyle factors linked to insulin resistance. These factors include:

  • Certain medication use. Some medications can reduce your body’s sensitivity to insulin. Examples include certain blood pressure medications, psychiatric medications, and steroids.
  • Diet. Regular consumption of highly processed foods, foods high in saturated fat, and foods high in added sugars is linked to insulin resistance. These foods cause your blood sugar to rise and put stress on your pancreas. 
  • Overweight/obesity. Excess fat around the abdomen and organs is strongly associated with insulin resistance. Excess belly fat can trigger inflammation in your body, which may lead to insulin resistance.
  • Physical inactivity. Regular physical activity helps your body to regulate your blood sugar. Limited physical activity can cause weight gain and reduced sensitivity to insulin.
  • Smoking. Smoking can lead to chronic inflammation and make your body less sensitive to insulin. 

Genetic Conditions

Researchers have worked hard to identify genetic risk factors linked to insulin resistance and other metabolic conditions. Certain inherited genetic conditions can place you at greater risk for developing insulin resistance. 

These include:

  • Alström syndrome
  • Donohue syndrome
  • Inherited lipodystrophy
  • Myotonic dystrophy
  • Rabson-Mendenhall syndrome
  • Type A insulin resistance syndrome
  • Werner syndrome

Hormonal Conditions

Hormones are important to regulating your blood sugar levels. Some hormonal conditions can disrupt how your body produces or uses insulin. 

These include:

  • Acromegaly
  • Cushing’s syndrome
  • Hypothyroidism

Other Health Conditions

A variety of health conditions are associated with insulin resistance. For example, most people with prediabetes or type 2 diabetes have insulin resistance. 

Other health conditions linked to insulin resistance include:

  • Gestational diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Heart disease 
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome
  • Sleep disorders
  • Stroke

Other Factors

Other risk factors for developing insulin resistance include:

  • Age older than 45
  • Having a family history of insulin resistance
  • Certain racial or ethnic backgrounds, including Asian American, Black, Hispanic/Latino, Native/Indigenous people

Insulin Resistance Diagnosis

Finger-prick test

Providers don’t typically test for insulin resistance unless someone has symptoms or several key risk factors. To diagnose insulin resistance, your provider may:

  • Review your personal medical history
  • Review your family history for insulin resistance
  • Complete a physical exam 
  • Order laboratory tests

Your provider may order oral or blood tests to determine your:

  • Blood sugar and insulin levels
  • Cholesterol and triglyceride levels

Having high insulin and high blood sugar levels can indicate insulin resistance. This is also true for high cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

Insulin Resistance Complications

Insulin resistance can range from mild to severe. Not every person with insulin resistance will develop prediabetes, type 2 diabetes, or other metabolic complications. Your risk for complications will depend on a number of personal factors, including your health history, lifestyle, and how resistant you are to insulin. 

Most complications from insulin resistance are related to damage to the blood vessels. Left untreated, high blood sugar levels and elevated insulin levels can lead to:

  • Eye complications or vision problems
  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Kidney disease
  • Ketoacidosis and ketones
  • Neuropathy
  • Skin complications or infections
  • Stroke

Insulin Resistance Treatment

Fortunately, insulin resistance can be managed and sometimes reversed. Making healthy lifestyle changes and using medications to manage your condition can help to reduce your insulin resistance.

Healthy Lifestyle Changes

Providers recommend a series of healthy lifestyle changes that can help to:

  • Lower your blood sugar levels
  • Lower your triglycerides and “bad” cholesterol levels
  • Improve your “good” cholesterol levels
  • Reduce your blood pressure

Healthy lifestyle changes that can help you manage insulin resistance include:

  • Being physically active
  • Eating a balanced diet
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Managing stress
  • Never smoking or quitting smoking
  • Reducing your sugar intake


Your provider might recommend prescription medication to help manage your insulin resistance. Medications used to treat other health conditions can make it easier for you to manage insulin resistance. 

Medications commonly prescribed to people with insulin resistance include:

Insulin Resistance Prevention

Man jogging

You can’t control certain risk factors, such as genetic conditions or family history of insulin resistance. The best way to prevent developing insulin resistance is to live an active, healthy lifestyle. Talk to your provider about any concerning symptoms or risk factors for insulin resistance so you can stay on top of your health.

Get the Lowest Price for Insulin Resistance Medications

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Once you sign up, you can create a bid for your medication, then sit back while pharmacies across the country compete for your business. Simply choose the pharmacy and price you like best, then you can either pick up your prescription or have it shipped right to your front door. Visit our medication page to get started.