For many, prediabetes may be an unfamiliar or intimidating term. Nearly 28 percent of American adults with diabetes are undiagnosed. With that, nearly 9 out of 10 adults who have prediabetes are not aware. As Americans continue to lack awareness of prediabetes, UnityPoint Clinic wants to ensure that you and your loved ones remain informed about the factors contributing to prediabetes, prevention methods, testing and an overall healthy lifestyle.
What is Prediabetes?
Someone who is considered to have prediabetes will have a blood sugar that is higher than normal, but not high enough to be considered Type 2 diabetes. Having risk factors for prediabetes puts you at higher risk for developing Type 2 diabetes. This can lead to other serious health complications like stroke, heart disease, kidney disease and other circulation problems.
There are normally no particular signs or symptoms associated with prediabetes.
With that, the classic symptoms
of the development from prediabetes to Type 2 diabetes include:
- Increased thirst
- Frequent urination
- Blurred vision
The same factors that can increase your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes can increase the progress of prediabetes. These factors include:
- Weight. A primary risk factor for prediabetes is being overweight. When you have more fatty tissue, the more resistive your cells will become to insulin.
- Inactivity. When you are inactive, you immediately are at a greater risk for prediabetes. Consistent exercise will help you control your weight and use glucose as energy, making your cells more receptive to insulin.
- Waist Size. Those with a larger waist perimeter could exhibit insulin resistance. The risk for men goes up with a waist larger than 40 inches and for women when the waist is larger than 35 inches.
- Age. Even though diabetes can develop at any age, the risk of prediabetes increases as you get older. This happens especially after the age of 45 when people begin to exercise less, gain weight and lose muscle mass.
- Family History. If a parent or sibling has Type 2 diabetes, the risk for prediabetes heightens dramatically.
- Race. Though it is unclear why people of certain races are more prone to the development of prediabetes, men and women of African, Hispanic, Asian, or American Indian descent are at a greater risk.
Why You Should Be Tested
With 8.1 million undiagnosed diabetic people in the United States in 2014, getting tested regularly is crucial. As prediabetes awareness remains consistently low for Americans, taking care of yourself and loved ones through routine checkups and testing for prediabetes/diabetes will help you prevent or control the disease. It is especially critical for those who have a family history of the disease, and, therefore, they should be checked earlier and on a more frequent basis.
Testing Methods Include:
- Hemoglobin A1C. This test measures your average blood glucose levels for the past two to three months and does not involve fasting.
- Fasting plasma glucose. When checking your fasting blood glucose levels, you are unable to drink or eat (except water) for a minimum of eight hours before the testing occurs. Therefore, this test regularly takes place in the morning before breakfast.
- Oral glucose tolerance test. The OGTT is a test that checks your blood glucose levels over a two-hour period before and after you drink a specific sweet, concentrated glucose drink. The test results show your doctor how your body processes glucose.
- Random plasma glucose test. This test is similar to the fasting plasma glucose but can be done any time of the day.
How to Prevent Prediabetes
The best prevention method for prediabetes consists of living a healthy lifestyle. Those who do not change current unhealthy behaviors are 15 to 30 percent
more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes within five years. Regardless of diabetes running in your family, maintaining a diet of healthy foods, exercising regularly and losing excess pounds can prevent or even reverse the progression of Type 2 diabetes.
Effective ways to manage and prevent prediabetes from developing into Type 2 diabetes consist of lifestyle changes. Through healthy eating, remaining active and being prepared, you will give yourself a better quality of life. There are many opportunities to join communities for support
as well as representatives who are always available to answer questions and help guide you through necessary healthful changes. If you have recently been diagnosed with prediabetes or feel that you have the signs and symptoms, reach out to your doctor immediately!
Myths That Can Make Prediabetes Worse
There are a lot of myths and misconceptions about diabetes that make it hard for people to consider the real facts about the disease and how detrimental it can be.
1. “Diabetes is not a serious disease.”
When managed properly, you can delay or prevent diabetes complications. However, diabetes does cause more deaths each year than AIDS and breast cancer combined.
2. “Eating too much sugar causes diabetes.”
Type 1 diabetes is generally caused by genetics with unknown factors that trigger the disease; Type 2 diabetes is caused by lifestyle factors and genetics. The American Diabetes Association recommends that people avoid sugar-sweetened drinks due to links with Type 2 diabetes, but it isn’t a leading factor for diabetes.
3. “If you are obese or overweight, you are guaranteed to get diabetes.”
Being overweight plays a significant role in developing Type 2 diabetes, but risk factors such as ethnicity, family history, smoking and age also play a dominant role.
4. “Fruit is healthy, so you can eat as much as you want.”
Fruit contains fiber, vitamins and minerals and is overall very healthy. Fruit is a necessity in your diet, which is why you should consult with your dietician regarding the amount you should be eating and how frequently.
Amy Sinnwell, the diabetes education program coordinator at UnityPoint Clinic - Diabetes and Endocrinology
, explains, “Even though it is considered a natural sugar, fruit will raise your blood glucose level. Though fruit has many health benefits, it must be consumed in moderation by patients who need to control their blood glucose, like those with diabetes and prediabetes.” Some fruits especially high in glucose are grapes, bananas, mangos, apples, pineapples, pears and kiwi. While it isn’t necessary to avoid these fruits altogether, moderation is important.
When to See a Doctor
If you are concerned about prediabetes or you notice signs and symptoms for Type 2 diabetes, you should ask your doctor about a glucose screening. You are at a greater risk if you:
- Are inactive
- Are 45 or older
- Have a family history of Type 2 diabetes
- Are overweight and have a body mass index greater than 25
- Have high blood pressure
Making sure that you and your loved ones maintain a healthy lifestyle is extremely important to us at UnityPoint Clinic. With 29.1 million people living with diabetes in the U.S. today, learning about the disease early is critical. Help us continue to spread awareness! If you are concerned or have any questions about prediabetes, message your provider on My UnityPoint immediately.