Though the number of diabetes cases seems to be leveling off, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates there are over 100 million people in the United States with diabetes or prediabetes. The health risks of the diseases are well-known. Both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes have a long list of complications, from heart disease to kidney failure, and leg amputations to blindness.
When you’re diagnosed with prediabetes, it means that the Type 2 version of the condition is on the way, but there’s still time to change your lifestyle and start treatment to reverse the effects of high blood glucose levels. Recognizing prediabetes isn’t easy, since even Type 2 diabetics can remain free of symptoms.
The litmus test for diagnosis is the glycated hemoglobin test, commonly called an A1C test. If your blood sugar levels haven’t be checked, there are some signs that may suggest it’s time to visit St. Rose Integrative Medical Center for a blood test.
The prediabetes condition
Prediabetes is a blood glucose state that shows elevation over normal levels, but not yet high enough to be classified as Type 2 diabetes. The effects of high blood sugar may already be causing damage in your body, including added wear-and-tear on your heart and blood vessels.
But prediabetes isn’t a guarantee you are going to progress to Type 2 diabetes. It’s still possible to recover, typically through weight loss, diet modification, and increases in physical activity. There may also be medications to help lower your blood sugar and assist with weight loss.
Perhaps the biggest problem with prediabetes is that it usually has no symptoms. There’s usually no sign that chemical changes in your body are moving you toward Type 2 diabetes. Generally, testing blood sugar through regular medical checkups is the best way to monitor if you’re moving toward diabetes.
There are some signs, though, when you’re making the transition between prediabetes and Type 2 diabetes. If you find patches of dark skin appearing around your armpits, elbows, knuckles, knees, or neck, this could be a sign you’re at risk. But these patches don’t always appear, so they’re not a reliable indicator.
Increased thirst and frequent urination may occur in the later stages of prediabetes, and your vision may become affected. You may have the feeling that your eyeglass prescription is no longer effective or things that were normally in focus are now blurry. Since your body is no longer using blood sugar effectively, you may feel easily fatigued when you used to have plenty of energy.
Prediabetes risk factors
You’re more at risk of having prediabetes if:
- You’re overweight, particularly with large stores of abdominal fat
- Your diet is high in red meat and sugar-sweetened drinks
- You live a sedentary lifestyle with little regular walking or other physical activity
- You’re getting older, since risk of prediabetes rises after the age of 45
- As a woman, you suffer from polycystic ovary syndrome
- You have sleep disorders, such as obstructive sleep apnea
- Your family has a history of prediabetes or Type 2 diabetes
Since you need a blood test to accurately check for prediabetes, be aware of the risk factors for the condition and, if necessary, schedule an appointment with your caregiver at St. Rose Integrative Medical Center for a blood test and physical exam.