Can you be insulin resistant and still have normal blood sugars?
Yes! A person who is insulin resistance can, and often does, have normal fasting blood glucose levels and normal blood sugar after meals. People with insulin resistance can even “pass” an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT).
But in order to maintain normal glucose levels during an oral glucose tolerance test, a person with insulin resistance will overproduce insulin. Elevated insulin levels is called “hyperinsulinemia.”
What tests can tell me if I am insulin resistant?
A routine finger stick in your doctor’s office can only tell you what your blood sugar is – it cannot tell you what your insulin levels are.
Unless your doctor specifically asks a lab to test your insulin levels (when they test your blood sugar levels), an oral glucose tolerance test cannot rule out insulin resistance.
Have your doctor check:
- Fasting insulin levels; and
- Insulin levels at the 2-hour mark of an oral glucose tolerance test.
It is important to have both blood sugar and insulin levels checked at the same time because many doctors believe that blood sugar levels alone are not enough to diagnose (or rule out) insulin resistance.
Some doctors look at insulin levels by themselves but most now compare the ratio of insulin to blood glucose level when determining if a patient is insulin resistant.
“Normal” insulin ranges will vary by lab so be sure to ask your doctor to explain your test results to you.
Tell your doctor if you have skin tags, changes in skin color or texture, mood swings, extreme fatigue, intense hunger, sleep troubles, adult acne, excess facial hair, or premature balding. These, and other things can all be signs and symptoms of insulin resistance.
Take Insulin Resistance Seriously!
If you have insulin resistance even if your blood glucose levels are normal you should still be concerned about developing pre-diabetes in the future.
Over-producing insulin is still an abnormal condition that is very unhealthy even if your blood sugar is still in normal range.
Excess insulin can lead to weight gain, scalp hair loss, excess facial hair (in women), infertility, skin tags, and an increase risk of certain kinds of cancers, heart attack, and stroke.
Who should be tested for insulin resistance?
If you are 45 years or older, you be screened for pre-diabetes and insulin resistance regardless of your weight.
If you are diagnosed with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis or another thyroid disease, cushing’s syndrome (disease), or polycystic ovarian syndrome you have an increased risk of insulin resistance, pre-diabetes, and type 2 diabetes.
For more information based on age, gender, and family history, read Who Should Be Tested for Insulin Resistance.