Q:

What causes low insulin levels?

A:

Low insulin levels occur when the beta cells of the pancreas do not produce enough insulin, according to the American Association for Clinical Chemistry. This can occur in diabetes, hypopituitarism or pancreatitis.

Insulin is a hormone produced and stored in the beta cells of the pancreas, explains the American Association for Clinical Chemistry. Insulin helps to transport glucose into cells. If there is too little insulin or there is resistance to insulin, the cells starve. Glucose is unable to enter the cells and remains in the blood, resulting in high blood glucose levels. High insulin levels occur in insulin resistance, obesity, acromegaly, Cushing syndrome and insulinoma.

Doctors should evaluate insulin levels in the context of blood glucose levels, states the American Association for Clinical Chemistry. Low levels of insulin with high levels of glucose in the blood indicate inability of the beta cells to produce insulin in diabetes or pancreatitis. High levels of insulin with high or normal levels of glucose indicate insulin resistance. High or normal levels of insulin with low levels of glucose indicate hypoglycemia due to excess insulin.

Doctors are likely to order insulin testing in people with low glucose levels. They also order the test for people who exhibit symptoms such as fainting, profuse sweating, palpitations, blurred vision, confusion and unusual hunger.

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