Insulin Resistance Does Not Always Mean Diabetes: Learn the Difference

Insulin resistance is often chalked up to diabetes, but it's not exactly the same thing. A diabetic can be insulin resistant, but insulin resistance alone does not a diabetic make. Likewise, just because someone is diabetic, doesn't mean they're insulin resistant.

What Makes You Diabetic?

Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas that helps your organs and muscles absorb glucose in your blood and convert it to energy. Diabetes occurs when the body doesn’t produce insulin, or doesn’t produce enough. Being diabetic means being insulin deficient, not resistant.

What is Insulin Resistance?

When you’re insulin resistant, your body is still producing insulin—in fact, the body often tries to compensate for resistance by over-producing it. The problem is that insulin has little effect because your cells resist absorbing it. This can lead to many diabetic-like symptoms because the results are the same-- the glucose is built up in your blood rather than absorbed by the body.

Insulin resistance is considered 'pre-diabetes' because it often leads to Type 2 diabetes. When your body over-produces insulin for too long, eventually your pancreas begins to conk out and slows production until you’re not getting enough. That's how an insulin resistant person gets diabetes.

Common Treatments

A diabetic needs to take insulin by injection to compensate for what the body lacks.

Insulin resistance alone may be treated with oral meds. A diabetic with insulin resistance will usually require both oral meds (to lower resistance) as well as insulin (to compensate for what the body isn’t producing).

If you’re insulin resistant, act quickly in working with your doctor. With the right diet, exercise and possibly medications, you may be able to prolong the onset of diabetes.

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