Hyperinsulinism is a condition in which the pancreas produces too much insulin. Insulin is a hormone that helps the body use glucose for energy. When there is too much insulin in the blood, it can cause the blood sugar levels to drop too low, a condition called hypoglycemia.
There are two main types of hyperinsulinism:
- Congenital hyperinsulinism (CHI) is a rare genetic disorder that is present at birth. It is the most common cause of severe, persistent hypoglycemia in infants and children.
- Acquired hyperinsulinism can be caused by a number of factors, including tumors of the pancreas, certain medications, and certain medical conditions, such as Cushing's syndrome.
The symptoms of hyperinsulinism can vary depending on the type and severity of the condition. In general, people with hyperinsulinism may experience:
- Frequent episodes of hypoglycemia, which can cause symptoms such as sweating, shakiness, irritability, confusion, and seizures
- Weight gain
- Blurred vision
The diagnosis of hyperinsulinism is made with a blood test to measure insulin levels. Other tests that may be done include a glucose tolerance test, a fasting blood sugar test, and an ultrasound of the pancreas.
The treatment for hyperinsulinism depends on the type and severity of the condition. In some cases, treatment may not be necessary. However, if the condition is causing symptoms or complications, treatment options may include:
- Medications that help to control insulin levels
- Surgery to remove the overactive cells in the pancreas
- A pancreas transplant
The prognosis for people with hyperinsulinism varies depending on the type and severity of the condition. With early diagnosis and treatment, most people with CHI can live normal, healthy lives.
Here are some additional things to know about hyperinsulinism:
- It is more common in males than females.
- It is not related to anything that the mother did during pregnancy.
- There is no cure for hyperinsulinism, but it can be managed with treatment.
- People with hyperinsulinism are at increased risk for developing other medical conditions, such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
If you have any concerns about hyperinsulinism, talk to your doctor.