You feel fine, so it’s easy to think that you may not be that one out of three. You need to know that pre-diabetic people may not even know about their condition.
According to information available from the Centers for Disease Control, it’s projected that 90% of people who are pre-diabetic have no idea that anything’s up with the way their bodies process glucose.
Here’s more information that you should know about pre-diabetes, risk factors, and what can be done about it.
What Exactly is Pre-Diabetes?
Pre-diabetes is a condition in which your blood sugar level is elevated beyond what’s considered a normal range. While higher than normal, the level is not high enough to indicate that you’ve developed type 2 diabetes.
It is an indicator that unless something happens to change the course, you’re on the way to becoming diabetic.
Causes of Pre-Diabetes
Pre-diabetes involves a malfunction of the pancreas. The pancreas produces the insulin that the body needs to process the absorption and use of glucose. Without insulin, the cells cannot absorb and convert glucose efficiently. The result is excess glucose in the bloodstream.
As time passes, the pancreas is unable to produce enough insulin to maintain the proper rate of absorption. Your blood sugar rises, and the glucose can begin to adversely affect your general health.
There is no single factor that leads to the development of pre-diabetes. Your family medical history could indicate a predilection. Genetics may also play a role. The fact that you’re overweight might contribute to the development. The failure to exercise regularly does increase the odds, as does a diet that’s relatively low and nutrients and higher in simple carbohydrates.
If you ask your doctor why you’re pre-diabetic, he’s likely to mention all of the above as possible contributing factors. The professional may have a few more ideas based on your individual health history and lifestyle.
How Prevalent is Pre-Diabetes in the United States?
As of 2020, the Centers for Disease Control estimate that 88 million people – or one in every three US citizens – are pre-diabetic. Further, the CDC’s research indicates that the majority of people who have this condition don’t know it’s present.
Depending on the nature of the research somewhere between 84% and 90% of those 88 million people are walking around with pre-diabetes and have no idea.
Surely There are Symptoms
Many health issues come with symptoms that tell you something is wrong. That’s not always the case with pre-diabetes.
Many patients who find they have this condition don’t exhibit any outward symptoms at all. If they exhibit any symptom, it’s usually attributed to some other cause, such as not getting enough sleep or being under stress.
If a patient does exhibit symptoms, the most likely ones include fatigue, an increase in thirst, more frequent urination, and vision that seems to be a little blurry. All of these symptoms can be associated with other health conditions, so the only way to know what’s causing the problem is to see your doctor.
Won’t the Condition Turn Up During My Annual Physical?
Not necessarily. Unless there are some indications that your body is not processing glucose properly, the doctor may not order the bloodwork needed to detect the condition.
If you do exhibit any symptoms or if there’s a history of diabetes in your paternal or maternal line, the doctor may order what’s known as an A1C panel as part of your physical. The panel can identify your average blood sugar level for the past three months.
If it’s elevated, that could lead to a diagnosis of pre-diabetes.
Should I Take Pre-diabetes Seriously?
Yes. If left untreated, pre-diabetes increases the risk of cardiovascular issues, up to and including strokes. You are also at a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes and all of the complications that come with the disease.
Ways to Reduce the Odds of Developing Pre-Diabetes
While there’s nothing you can do about your family’s medical history, you can take steps to minimize the risk of developing pre-diabetes. Balanced meals that include plenty of nutrients are an excellent place to begin.
Limit the intake of simple carbohydrates and include moderate amounts of complex ones. You can use a glycemic index to aid in your meal planning.
Exercise is also your friend. Work out for a half-hour to an hour at least three times a week. After the evening meal, walking is helpful, especially if you maintain a brisk pace and walk for at least a half-hour.
What Resources Can Help Me Confirm and Manage My Condition?
Before you can aggressively address being pre-diabetic, you need to find out if the condition is present. You’ll find that the American Diabetes Association provides plenty of resources to anyone who thinks that pre-diabetes may be present. Currently, they offer a simple assessment tool that can indicate if you might have this condition.
Definitely talk with your doctor and ask about testing. Even if you don’t exhibit any symptoms, ask for the tests anyway. Bloodwork results usually come back quickly, and the results will either confirm you’re pre-diabetic or indicate that the condition is not present.
If the results do indicate elevated blood glucose levels, seek out advice from a dietitian. You’ll get suggestions on meal planning that include choices rich in the nutrients that you need and only limited amounts of simple and complex carbohydrates.
Finally, it’s time to start monitoring your blood sugar levels. The simplest and most effective way to do this is wearing a Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM). The sensor seamlessly goes on the back of your upper arm. If you’re worried about comfort, let that go. Most people who wear a CGM forget that it’s there.
The monitor works by taking readings of your blood glucose levels throughout the day and the night. All the results are routed to an app on your smartphone. You’re able to see the results whenever you like.
Along with having ongoing information about your glucose levels, it’s easy to use the data to determine how certain foods affect your blood sugar and for how long.
Will I Need Medication?
Depending on the results of your A1C, your doctor may prescribe some type of medication. The most likely outcome is that you’ll be given a prescription for metformin.
You can also get a prescription via a telemedicine consultation from an online longevity clinic like AgelessRx.com. This drug works by reducing the amount of sugar that the liver releases into the bloodstream. It’s considered one of the first lines of defense when it comes to controlling blood glucose levels. It can also lower the risk of progressing to type 2 diabetes by 31%.
You may begin with the minimum dose of metformin. That would be 500 mg per day. As long as your sugar levels remain under control, the doctor will not likely increase the dosage. It’s possible to increase the dosage up to 2000 mg per day, but that usually happens only if your condition progresses to type 2 diabetes.
You may not have to remain on metformin for the rest of your life. If your efforts at being more physically active and following a healthier diet do the trick, the doctor may determine that you don’t need prescription medication. If you develop type 2 diabetes, the metformin may be increased, replaced with other medications, or used in tandem with other medicines.
The bottom line is that pre-diabetes is nothing to take lightly. Even if you are asymptomatic, it never hurts to ask your doctor to include bloodwork that checks for signs of excess glucose in your system.
Depending on the results, you may need to make some lifestyle changes, monitor your levels more closely, and possibly take medication. Do it now, and you reduce the odds of progressing to type 2 diabetes, and all the consequences of that might follow.