Do You Have Prediabetes? Signs and Symptoms You Need to Know
Diabetes is one of the most common diseases in America. According to the CDC’s National Diabetes Statistics, more than 30 million people live with diabetes–and 7.2 million people don’t even know that they have diabetes. Those who are living in the dark, unaware that they could be exhibiting the signs of diabetes, are suffering from pre-diabetes.
The reality of living with diabetes is very serious. Those who don’t have it tend to think they’ll never get it, which incredibly dangerous. Before diabetes progresses, worsening your quality of life and forcing drastic lifestyle changes, the body may start showing some subtle signs. These hints can begin appearing long before you are even aware that your pancreas is struggling.
Here’s what you need to know–and keep an eye out for–if you’re wondering what some early warning signs of diabetes are.
What is Prediabetes?
Prediabetes is a series of symptoms that occur when the body is beginning to develop type 2 diabetes. Your blood sugar level is higher than normal, but not quite at diabetes levels yet. Your body starts struggling to produce enough insulin, a hormone required to transport glucose for energy via the bloodstream. If your body doesn’t make enough insulin, or struggles to make use of the insulin it does create, it may be sending you an early warning that you’re developing insulin resistance.
Type 2 diabetes can develop if you don’t change your habits. Diabetes doesn’t happen overnight, but once you have developed the disease, it’s much harder to overcome. During the prediabetes stage, you can start taking preventive action.
Who Gets Prediabetes and Diabetes?
The typical risk factors for developing diabetes are:
- Being overweight
- Family history of diabetes
- High sugar diet
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Racial and ethnic predisposition
- High blood pressure and cholesterol levels
- Pregnancy (gestational diabetes)
- Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
The First Symptoms of Diabetes
Although your blood sugar level may be higher than it should be, you may not feel a thing physically. Notice whether you are experiencing any of the following:
- Unusual increase in appetite
- Unexpected weight loss (without eating less)
- Increased thirst
- More trips to the bathroom
- Fatigue (more than normal)
If all of these symptoms ring a bell, see your general practitioner for a check-up. Your doctor will check your body mass index (BMI) in relation to your age, ask about risk factors, and may do blood glucose testing. It’s not a bad idea to have this test every few years once you’re over the age of 45, since age is a risk factor. Your doctor will probably perform either a fasting plasma glucose test (FPG), an oral glucose tolerance test (OGT), or both. For the FPG, you won’t be allowed to eat anything for eight hours before the test, which is why this is typically done first thing in the morning. For the OGTT, you will do the same as for the FPG, but afterward, you’ll drink a sugary syrup and be retested two hours later.
What Can You Do to Prevent Your Body from Developing Full Diabetes?
Prediabetes, when diagnosed, gives you the chance to slow or prevent the onslaught of diabetes. In order to do so, you will need to make important lifestyle changes and reassess your habits. If you are overweight, adjust your eating and exercise habits so that you can lose weight at a healthy pace. This will help bring your blood glucose levels to a normal range. There are many approaches to adjustment—for example, joining a gym, getting a personal trainer or nutritionist, or asking one of your friends who has a healthy lifestyle to help keep you accountable on a daily and weekly basis.
More damaging habits, such as smoking and drinking, need to see more drastic action. If you are a smoker, consider stopping. Along with the risk of cancer, smoking puts strain on every system in your body. If you drink regularly, cut down on alcohol. You’ll also want to watch your consumption of foods high in salt and sugar, and make sure you hydrate with water.
If you already have prediabetes, your doctor will want to monitor your levels on a regular basis to help you make progress. Make use of every opportunity to turn your health around—health is a gift!