What You Need To Know About PreDiabetes
Pre-diabetes is a warning illness. When this condition is diagnosed, it can give you the opportunity to improve your health and avoid type 2 diabetes. Pre-diabetes might not sound dangerous, but it means your blood sugar levels are higher than normal. The condition is common. In fact, more than 1 in 3 American adults suffer from pre-diabetes. Unfortunately, most patients don’t get diagnosed at this early stage. Most people suffering from pre-diabetes don’t know they have the condition. This means the condition goes untreated, often leading to type 2 diabetes.
Pre-diabetes is diagnosed with a blood test. These tests are usually recommended around age 45. However, your doctor may suggest starting sooner if you have a combination of common risk factors. A pre-diabetes blood screening determines how much blood sugar is attached to protein in your red blood cells. The most common test is called a Glycated Hemoglobin (A1C) test. An A1C level that is below 5.7% is considered normal. If your A1C is between 5.7% and 6.4% you have pre-diabetes. Levels higher than 6.5% indicate type 2 diabetes. Other tests to measure blood sugar may require fasting. The results may be measured differently in fasting glucose tests.
Pre-diabetes is a Warning
Since most people are unaware they suffer from pre-diabetes, it is important to learn the symptoms. Learning about symptoms, causes, and your personal risk level can alert you to potential warning signs to discuss with your doctor. Early diagnosis can help you adopt a treatment plan early and prevent type 2 diabetes.
There are many factors that combine to cause pre-diabetes. Your pancreas creates a hormone called insulin to allow your body to use blood sugar for energy. Pre-diabetes causes your cells to respond differently and your pancreas is forced to make more insulin. When your pancreas can’t keep up, your blood sugar rises. Sometimes, pre-diabetes is caused by a reaction to an unhealthy diet. Genetics may play a factor too. However, there are times when a patient doesn’t respond properly to insulin without having any of the common markers. This is why learning the symptoms can be crucial in getting a diagnosis.
It is common for patients to have little or no symptoms of pre-diabetes. However, some symptoms are a warning that you should be tested, including:
- Carrying extra weight.
- Having family members with diabetes.
- Being inactive.
- Having previous conditions like gestational diabetes or polycystic ovary syndrome.
- Suddenly feeling plagued with fatigue.
- Excess hunger or thirst.
Changing your lifestyle can have a major impact on your blood sugar levels. Even a small amount of improvement to your diet and exercise levels can drastically reduce your risks for type 2 diabetes. Studies show that adopting a healthier lifestyle can cut your risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 58%. Reducing risks is largely attributed to successful weight loss. Other elements of a healthy lifestyle are also effective. If you are diagnosed with pre-diabetes, the following lifestyle changes may be recommended.
- Decrease fat (especially saturated fats) in your diet.
- Set defined goals for weight loss.
- Increase daily activity.
- Add more fiber to your diet.
- Stop smoking.
- Take medication as prescribed by your doctor.
- Increase vegetables in your diet. Green leafy vegetables are especially effective.
Pre-diabetes is a warning that you are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Untreated pre-diabetes often leads to type 2 diabetes within 5 years. This serious illness can have severe effects on your overall health. Type 2 diabetes can lead to major health conditions including heart attack and stroke. Type 2 diabetes can have many other dangerous effects on your body. Some conditions caused by type 2 diabetes include:
- Nerve damage that causes pain and numbness in hands and feet.
- Heart disease.
- Kidney problems.
- Periodontal (gum) disease.
- Multiple eye conditions that can lead to vision loss or total blindness.
Prevention of these dangerous symptoms lie in the ability to control your blood sugar. Early detection of pre-diabetes can help you learn the changes you need to take to control. Understanding your risks can help you improve your health in the future.
Routine visits with your doctor and a healthy lifestyle are the best ways to prevent pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes. While there is no way to completely eliminate your risks, you can reduce dangerous symptoms with early detection and actively making healthy changes. Knowing your family history and risk factors is a valuable weapon in fighting disease.