What Is Pre-diabetes?
Important Steps to Take to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
Before a person is diagnosed with diabetes, they often have pre-diabetes. Learn the risk factors, and the steps you can take to prevent developing Type 2 diabetes.
There are almost 24 million Americans living with diabetes, and another 57 million with pre-diabetes. Before a person is diagnosed with diabetes, they often have pre-diabetes. This is the stage where blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not high enough for the person to be diagnosed as a diabetic. You may be at risk for pre-diabetes or diabetes if any of the following apply to you: - You’re age 45 or older - You’re overweight, with a body mass index above 25 - You’re inactive - You have a family history of type 2 diabetes - You’re African American, Hispanic, American Indian, Asian American, or a Pacific Islander - You had gestational diabetes when you were pregnant or gave birth to a baby who weighed more than 9 pounds - You have polycystic ovary syndrome - You have high blood pressure - Your high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol is below 35 mg/dL or your triglyceride level is above 250mg/dL - You regularly sleep less than 5 ½ hours a night You may be pre-diabetic and not even know it. There are often no symptoms or the symptoms are often not recognized since they come on gradually. One symptom is darkened skin around the neck, armpits, elbows, knees, and knuckles. The exact cause of pre-diabetes is not known but it’s often related to people who have excess fat, especially abdominal fat, and are not active. What is known is that those with pre-diabetes don’t process sugar properly. So when they eat food and it’s converted to sugar in the blood, it doesn’t do its normal job of providing fuel to the cells that make up muscles and tissues. Why should you be concerned? Diabetes is the 6th leading cause of death in the U.S., but it’s a major health factor in a number of health conditions, such as: - Heart disease - Kidney disease - High blood pressure - Blindness - Nerve damage - Amputation So what can you do? The best way to prevent pre-diabetes from becoming type 2 diabetes is to change your diet and exercise; eat healthy foods; choose foods low in fat and calories and high in fiber; try to get more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains; get more exercise; try to get 30 to 60 minutes of moderate physical activity at least 5 days a week. Take a brisk daily walk, ride your bike, swim laps. You can even break up your exercise throughout the day. Lose excess pounds. If you’re overweight, losing just 5 to 10% of your body weight – even 10 to 20 pounds – can lower your risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 58%. Losing weight can do even more for you than preventing type 2 diabetes. It can make your heart healthier, give you more energy, help you sleep better, and improve your mood. Take medications if needed. Sometimes your doctor will prescribe medications that can help your body use insulin the way it was meant to. Or help with other factors caused by pre-diabetes such as high blood pressure or cholesterol. It’s important to work with your doctor to get your blood sugar levels under control.