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May 6, 2003

Diagnosis and Symptoms

Question from Buckner, Missouri, USA:

My mother, who does not have diabetes, went to see a doctor about the pain in her hands and shoulders, and the knots on her hands. The doctor said since diabetes runs in the family and the symptoms she is having that she may be insulin intolerant. What exactly does insulin intolerant mean?


I think the more appropriate phrase is impaired glucose tolerance. This means the glucose goes up higher than it should but not to the absolute level of a person with diabetes. In people with type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance is a major contributor to the elevated glucose. This means that the body makes insulin but the peripheral tissues, the liver, muscle, and fat, are resistant to the insulin present.