January 8, 2021 3:51 pm
More than 88 million people in America have prediabetes, or approximately 1 in 3 adults. However, since there are typically no signs of prediabetes, many people are unaware they have it.
Prediabetes means your blood sugar (glucose) levels aren’t high enough to be considered Type 2 diabetes, but are still higher than normal. If left unmanaged, prediabetes can develop into Type 2 diabetes. When your fasting blood glucose level is 100 to 125 mg/dL, you can be diagnosed with prediabetes. A fasting blood glucose level of 126 or more indicates you have diabetes.
Certain risk factors increase your chance of developing prediabetes. These include:
- A close family member with Type 2 diabetes
- Age 45 or older
- Being overweight or obese
- Gestational diabetes currently or in the past
- Having polycystic ovarian syndrome
- High blood pressure, high cholesterol and/or a history of heart disease
- Lack of physical activity
The only way you can know for certain you have prediabetes is by being diagnosed by your provider. Prediabetes is diagnosed with a blood test. If you have any of the risk factors above, ask your primary care provider what changes you can make to help avoiding developing prediabetes or diabetes.
Even if you have these risk factors, prediabetes rarely causes symptoms. Some of the first common signs of diabetes, such as increased thirst and frequent urination, may not occur in patients with prediabetes. If they do, they may happen gradually and go unnoticed for several years.
What Causes Type 2 Diabetes?
Unlike Type 1 diabetes, which is an autoimmune disorder that is unpreventable, Type 2 diabetes often develops as a result of genetics and poor lifestyle decisions. Being inactive, leading a sedentary lifestyle and being overweight or obese can contribute to the development of Type 2 diabetes. The risk factors for prediabetes can also put you at risk for Type 2 diabetes.
When you have Type 2 diabetes, your body doesn’t use insulin—a hormone that helps turn sugar into energy—as it should, and your pancreas may eventually stop making enough insulin. As a result, you could develop symptoms like frequent urination, excessive thirst, fatigue, blurry vision and nonhealing wounds as the glucose (sugar) accumulates in your blood and isn’t converted into energy.
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Does Eating Too Much Sugar Cause Diabetes?
It can, if it’s added sugar. Unlike naturally occurring sugars, added sugars are found in highly processed foods such as baked goods or non-diet sodas. Added sugars have been linked to prediabetes and Type 2 diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association. Limiting your added sugar can help reduce your risk.
But sugar isn’t the only culprit. Foods that contain carbohydrates, such as breads, starchy vegetables, grains and many processed foods, can also impact your blood sugar. Carbohydrates are broken down into glucose, just like it is with added sugars, and the insulin doesn’t signal the cells to convert that glucose to energy, too.
How Your Provider Can Help
Your primary care provider can test your blood sugar levels to see if they are higher than normal. If you have risk factors for prediabetes, your provider can also help you reduce your risk. And if your provider does diagnose you with prediabetes, it does not mean you will get Type 2 diabetes. Instead, it can be a catalyst to make healthy lifestyle changes, including:
- Getting regular exercise, at least the recommended 30 minutes per day.
- Losing weight, which is one of the most effective ways to prevent or delay Type 2 diabetes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says losing even 5% of your body weight can make a difference.
- Maintaining a healthy diet with minimal added sugars.
- Visiting your provider regularly to discuss your health concerns and screen for Type 2 diabetes.
If you believe you may have prediabetes or Type 2 diabetes, make an appointment with a primary care provider. To find one, call (662) 664-5181.
This post was written by Magnolia Regional Health Center