Is hyperinsulinemia a form of diabetes?
Answer From M. Regina Castro, M.D.
Hyperinsulinemia (hi-pur-in-suh-lih-NEE-me-uh) means the amount of insulin in the blood is higher than what's considered healthy. On its own, hyperinsulinemia isn't diabetes. But hyperinsulinemia often is associated with type 2 diabetes.
Insulin is a hormone that the pancreas makes. It helps control blood sugar. Hyperinsulinemia is connected to insulin resistance — a condition in which the body doesn't respond as it should to the effects of insulin. In that situation, the pancreas makes more insulin in order to overcome the resistance, leading to higher levels of insulin in the blood. Type 2 diabetes develops when the pancreas can no longer make the large amounts of insulin needed to keep blood sugar at a healthy level.
Rarely, hyperinsulinemia is caused by:
- A tumor of the cells in the pancreas that make insulin. These tumors are called insulinomas.
- Too many cells in the pancreas that make insulin or too much growth of those cells. This condition is called nesidioblastosis.
Hyperinsulinemia usually doesn't cause symptoms in people with insulin resistance. In people who have insulinomas, hyperinsulinemia may lead to low blood sugar, a condition called hypoglycemia.
Treatment of hyperinsulinemia is directed at the problem that's causing it.
M. Regina Castro, M.D.
Dec. 07, 2022
From Mayo Clinic to your inbox
Sign up for free, and stay up to date on research advancements, health tips and current health topics, like COVID-19, plus expertise on managing health. Click here for an email preview.
ErrorEmail field is required
ErrorInclude a valid email address
To provide you with the most relevant and helpful information, and understand which
information is beneficial, we may combine your email and website usage information with
other information we have about you. If you are a Mayo Clinic patient, this could
include protected health information. If we combine this information with your protected
health information, we will treat all of that information as protected health
information and will only use or disclose that information as set forth in our notice of
privacy practices. You may opt-out of email communications at any time by clicking on
the unsubscribe link in the e-mail.
Thank you for subscribing!
You'll soon start receiving the latest Mayo Clinic health information you requested in your inbox.
Sorry something went wrong with your subscription
Please, try again in a couple of minutes
See more Expert Answers
- Abdul-Ghani M, et al. Insulin resistance and hyperinsulinemia: The egg and the chicken. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. 2021; doi:10.1210/clinem/dgaa364.
- Jameson JL, et al., eds. The metabolic syndrome. In: Harrison's Manual of Medicine. 20th ed. McGraw Hill; 2020. https://accessmedicine.mhmedical.com. Accessed Nov. 14, 2022.
- Insulinoma. Merck Manual Professional Version. https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/gastrointestinal-disorders/tumors-of-the-gi-tract/insulinoma. Accessed Nov. 14, 2022.
- Vella A. Noninsulinoma pancreatogenous hypoglycemia syndrome. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/search. Accessed Nov. 14, 2022.