hyperinsulinism, presence in the system of an above-normal amount of insulin, the substance secreted by the pancreas and needed by the body to utilize sugar. An increased amount of insulin in the body results in below-normal amounts of sugar in the system, giving rise to such symptoms as headache, dizziness, weakness, and emotional instability. In severe cases there may be convulsions, coma, and death. The cause of oversecretion of insulin may be organic, i.e., a tumor of the pancreas, impaired liver function, or endocrine disorders, or it may be functional, e.g., unusual muscular exertion, pregnancy, or lactation. In diabetics, hyperinsulinism is known as insulin shock and may occur from overdosage with insulin in the course of treatment. Where there is some organic cause for hyperinsulinism, surgery may be required to eliminate it. Functional hyperinsulinism and insulin shock are treated by dietary measures designed to bring the insulin-sugar ratio into better balance.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.