Knowing the fundamentals of diagnosing insulin resistance, also known as IR, could save your life. Insulin resistance is a medical condition that presents itself when the body begins to resist the effects of the necessary hormone insulin. As a result, the effects can wreak havoc on a person’s overall health. The consequences of insulin resistance can be very severe if the condition is not addressed. IR is associated with abdominal obesity, high cholesterol levels and elevated blood pressure. According to information made available at MedicineNet’s website, studies show that insulin resistance may also cause type 2 diabetes, a fatty liver, arteriosclerosis, coronary artery disease, strokes and peripheral vascular disease.

So, who is at risk of developing insulin resistance? A person who is obese and/or has been diagnosed with metabolic syndrome is susceptible to becoming insulin resistant. Pregnant woman are also at risk, as well as those who have an infection or severe illness. Using steroids, being under large amounts of stress and smoking are other risk factors that can cause insulin resistance in the body. Like most other illnesses, family history also plays a role, especially for the following ethnic groups: African American, Alaska Native, American Indian, Asian American, Hispanic/Latino or Pacific Islanders.

There are certain signs and symptoms one should look for when taking the first steps to diagnosing insulin resistance. The National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse (NDIC) offers some of the common physical characteristics a person with IR will often begin to show. Their website says that people who have an aggressive form of the condition could develop dark patches of skin that usually appear on the back of a person’s neck. They also may have a dark ring around their neck. Dark patches associated with IR are also commonly found on the elbows, knees, knuckles and armpits. Although these symptoms present red flags in some patients, the NDIC says insulin resistance often shows no signs in its early stages. In fact, a person may have it for years before they are aware it is there.

Properly diagnosing insulin resistance can be achieved in a few different ways. For example, a doctor may administer a fasting glucose test that measures blood glucose after a person has not consumed food for a minimum of 8 hours. The NDIC states that the test is most reliable when it is given during the morning hours. A glucose tolerance test is also effective for diagnosing insulin resistance. This test is also given after a person fasts for 8 hours, drinks a sweet fluid provided by a medical professional and then waits 2 hours. A doctor can examine the results of these two types of tests to determine if insulin resistance is present in a patient.

Before diagnosing insulin resistance becomes an issue, there are ways a person can reduce their risk of developing the disorder. First of all, if a person is obese it is essential to take the appropriate steps to lose weight. Obesity in women is defined as a waistline of 35 inches. In men, this measurement is 40 inches. Getting regular physical exercise is also key for fighting against insulin resistance. Exercise is also helpful for shedding unhealthy pounds, so it is beneficial all the way around.