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Insulin is a natural hormone produced in the pancreas in our body. This hormone is essential for the maintenance of blood glucose levels in our body. Insulin helps the different cells and tissues in our body to utilize glucose for energy production.

What is insulin allergy and resistance?

Diabetes is a chronic disorder that is characterized by a deficiency of insulin in our body. This necessitates the administration of synthetic insulin to help control the blood glucose levels. The insulin is available in different forms such as injectable and inhalable forms. Insulin allergy is noted to affect about 2% of all the diabetic individuals.

In some individuals although the production of insulin from the pancreas is normal, the cells and tissues in our body may become resistant to the actions of the insulin hormone. This leads improper utilization of glucose by the cells and tissues which in turn results in high blood glucose levels. This condition is commonly referred to as insulin resistance. The condition is also defined as the requirement of 200 or more units of insulin per day to achieve proper blood glucose levels. It has been estimated that about 3-16% of all the individuals tend to suffer from insulin resistance. In some instances individuals being administered synthetic insulin may also develop insulin resistance.

What are the symptoms of insulin allergy and resistance?

As with any other allergies, insulin allergy is characterized by immediate or delayed sign and symptoms. Some of the immediate features of insulin allergy include occurrence of redness or formation of small eruptions on the skin around the region where insulin was administered. The affected area may be itchy and the individual has a high urge to scratch these areas. During the later stages the affected individuals may develop breathing difficulties, dizziness, swelling over the injected region and decreased blood pressure. Depending upon the severity of the reaction the severity of the symptoms may vary. While a few individuals may have mild to moderate reactions, other may face sever life threatening reactions that would need immediate emergency care.

Individuals with insulin resistance may not notice any signs and symptoms until the blood glucose levels increase to abnormal levels. In severe cases of insulin resistance, the affected individuals develop dark patches which are commonly noted on the back of the neck. Such patches may also be noted on the elbows, knuckles, knees and the armpits. Some individuals may even notice the formation of a dark ring around their neck. Individuals who develop resistance to the insulin medication being administered may observe that the blood glucose levels are not under control or as expected.

Individuals suffering from insulin resistance may also note symptoms of high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels and heart disorders.

What are the causes and diagnosis of insulin allergy and resistance?

The exact cause of insulin allergy is not known. However, in individuals who are being treated with insulin obtained from animal sources, the risk of occurrence of allergy or resistance may be slightly higher than those being treated with human insulin. Further, the presence of impurities may also trigger an allergic reaction.

Insulin resistance may develop as a result of a number of factors. Presence of antiinsulin antibodies or formation of abnormal insulin in the pancreas may be a factor responsible insulin resistance. Underlying disorders which are associated with alterations in the cells that uptake insulin, aging, administration of medications such as glucocorticoids, niacin and Cyclosporine, and enhanced destruction of insulin at the site where it is being absorbed may also result in insulin resistance.

How are insulin allergy and resistance diagnosed?

The identification of insulin allergy would be quite simple, with the appearance of skin rashes or itching after the administration of the medicine. Allergy may be suspected when long term symptoms such as breathing difficulty or other related symptoms arise. Tests such as prick testing and measurement of certain specific proteins known as IgE antibodies are commonly advised to identify the presence of insulin allergy. A family history of allergy may also help in arriving at the conclusion.

Fasting insulin levels, Glucose tolerance, hyperinsulinemic euglycemic clamp and modified insulin suppression tests are the some o f different methods used to test the insulin resistance. 

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