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Hyperinsulinemia: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment

What is Hyperinsulinemia?

Hyperinsulinemia is a pathological condition in which the body produces excessive insulin. It has a strong relationship with insulin resistance and diabetes even though all are different medical conditions. It is insulin resistance that normally causes Hyperinsulinemia. Insulin is a hormone that helps in regulation of blood sugar levels in the body. This hormone is made in the pancreas and it functions by allowing the body to use and absorb glucose present in the blood. The cells of the body use this glucose for energy required to carry out their normal function. Insulin is necessary for the body to help keep the glucose in normal range [1, 2, 3].

Normally, the pancreas is capable enough of producing insulin per the requirement by the body. This means that after a meal when the levels of sugar become high, especially if the person eats a diet rich in sugar, the production of insulin increases to help keep the levels in normal range [1, 2, 3].

Hyperinsulinemia: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment

However, sometimes the cells of the body are not able to consume the insulin adequately. This results in increased levels of this hormone. This is medically termed as insulin resistance. This ultimately increases the levels of glucose in the body. When this happens, the pancreas tries to make more insulin to combat the significant rise in blood glucose. This increased level of glucose caused by insulin resistance is what is termed as Hyperinsulinemia [1, 2, 3].

Hyperinsulinemia is quite different from hyperglycemia which also results from increased blood sugar. Insulin resistance is a precursor for type 2 diabetes. This is because insulin resistance results when the pancreas are not able to produce enough insulin in the body causing the sugar levels to rise [1, 2, 3].

What Causes Hyperinsulinemia?

As stated, the primary cause of Hyperinsulinemia is insulin resistance. When the body does not use insulin correctly, the pancreas produces more insulin to try to compensate for the rise in blood sugar levels. Insulin resistance in most cases results in type-2 diabetes. This is because over time as the demand for insulin increases in the body the pancreas is not able to meet the demand and starts to shut down resulting in type-2 diabetes [3].

Another cause for Hyperinsulinemia is a tumor called Insulinoma but this has been seen in very rare cases. This tumor develops on the pancreatic cells and interferes with the production of insulin. The primary symptom of this condition is hypoglycemia or low blood sugar [3].

Yet another cause for Hyperinsulinemia is nesidioblastosis. This condition develops when the pancreas have excessive cells that produce insulin causing hypoglycemia. Genetic makeup and family history is also a crucial factor and increases the likelihood of a person developing Hyperinsulinemia [3].

What are the Symptoms of Hyperinsulinemia?

Hyperinsulinemia is completely asymptomatic. A study conducted in 2016 showed that most people with Hyperinsulinemia did not experience any symptoms at all. This is the reason why this condition is often referred to as “silent disease”. [3]

How is Hyperinsulinemia Treated?

Hyperinsulinemia can be effectively treated by making changes to the lifestyle in combination with medical therapy. The lifestyle changes will include eating a healthy and balanced diet, regular exercise, and maintaining an ideal body weight. The diet of a person with Hyperinsulinemia is an extremely crucial part of the treatment plan due to insulin resistance. A diet which prevents rise in sugar levels and helps to control it better is ideal for a person with Hyperinsulinemia [3].

Some of the foods that a person with Hyperinsulinemia can take which will be ideal for him or her would be plenty of vegetables and foods rich in fiber, lean meats like chicken, and whole grains are also recommended. It is best to consult with a dietician or physician for a diet chart best suited for the person. Exercise also plays an important part in the treatment of Hyperinsulinemia [3].

Regular exercise improves the tolerance of the body to insulin thereby keeping the sugar levels in check. Additionally, healthy weight can also be maintained with regular and diligent exercise routine. Some of the activities that one can do on an everyday basis include jogging, swimming, walking and biking. If these measures are not effective in controlling the condition then medications will be administered for treatment of Hyperinsulinemia [3].

In majority of the cases, the medications that are prescribed for diabetes are also prescribed for Hyperinsulinemia. However, there are some medications that may worsen Hyperinsulinemia and as such it is best to consult with the physician as to what medications would be best suited for him or her. If the person is taking any other medication then that also should be discussed with the healthcare provider [3].

In conclusion, Hyperinsulinemia is a condition when there is excess insulin in the body. This condition is basically a result of insulin resistance. A person is said to have insulin resistance if the cells of the body do not use insulin produced by the pancreas adequately. This causes a rise in insulin levels. Insulin resistance in most cases leads to type-2 diabetes. Hyperinsulinemia is a completely asymptomatic condition and the diagnosis is purely incidental [1, 2, 3].

The treatment options for Hyperinsulinemia basically focus on lifestyle modifications, diet, and exercise, although medications are also sometimes prescribed. Lifestyle modifications including eating a balanced and healthy diet, exercising regularly, abstaining from smoking and cutting down on alcohol, all are quite effective in the treatment of Hyperinsulinemia [1, 2, 3].

Exercising regularly not only helps a person maintain a healthy body weight but also generates tolerance of the body to insulin which is extremely beneficial for people with Hyperinsulinemia. In case of all these measures are ineffective then medications may also have to be prescribed based on the physician’s assessment of the condition [1, 2, 3].

With regard to diet, it is best to consult with a dietician or a physician who can recommend a diet that is best suited for a person with Hyperinsulinemia. Some of the activities that a person can do include jogging, walking, swimming, running, and cycling. These activities are very effective for people with Hyperinsulinemia [1, 2, 3].


Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:April 8, 2022

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