Before you can be diagnosed with the metabolic disorder of Type 2 diabetes, you’ll first have a condition called prediabetes, when blood glucose levels are elevated, but not high enough for a diabetes diagnosis. You’d have plenty of company at that stage. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that 96 million Americans have prediabetes and of those, 80% have no idea they have it.
Yet, armed with a diagnosis and a bit of knowledge, you can make the changes needed to reverse the high blood sugar trend. Partner with us at Healthy Life Family Medicine to turn prediabetes around. The first step is recognizing the signs before coming to us for testing. Here’s what you should know.
How prediabetes begins
Diabetes is all about insulin. Type 1 diabetics lose the ability to manufacture this chemical messenger, which controls the distribution of blood sugar throughout your body. For prediabetics and Type 2 diabetics, their bodies still manufacture insulin, but cells begin to resist the chemical signals.
The pancreas increases insulin production to counter the effects, but without intervention, it becomes a race you can’t win. Insulin resistance increases, the pancreas taps out, and blood sugar starts to rise. That’s when prediabetes starts.
A lack of symptoms
You can’t simply wait for prediabetes symptoms to show before seeking treatment because there may be no signs of the condition at all. If you have any, these will likely be mild and you may dismiss them as part of getting older or blame them on some other cause. Even the early stages of Type 2 diabetes may be relatively symptom-free, while damage occurs behind the scenes.
Instead, consider your risk factors for prediabetes. If you have one or more of these risk factors, ask us to add blood sugar testing to your regular care. Tests to monitor for prediabetes include:
- A1C: reads markers in your blood that give a three-month average of blood sugar levels
- Fasting blood sugar: this is a blood sugar test taken after fasting overnight
- Random blood sugar: taken at any time without the need for fasting
- Glucose tolerance: after a fasting blood sugar test, you’ll have a drink that’s high in sugar, with follow-up blood sugar tests to assess how your body tolerates glucose
Testing combined with your medical history can establish if you have prediabetes or Type 2 diabetes.
Prediabetes risk factors
Some prediabetics may develop dark patches of skin on the neck, armpits, or groin but it’s normal to have no symptoms at all. Evaluating prediabetes risk factors is the best way a prediabetic can evaluate their own risk. Some of the most common risk factors are:
- Obesity: Carrying extra pounds increases your prediabetes risk, particularly if you have a large waist measurement too
- Age: You’re more at risk over the age of 35
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Family history of Type 2 diabetes
- Diet including sugary juices and sodas, high levels of red or processed meats
- Tobacco use, including second-hand smoke
- Sleep disorders like sleep apnea
- Polycystic ovary syndrome or gestational diabetes: risk factors that affect women
- High blood pressure, high cholesterol, or high triglycerides
At Healthy Life Family Medicine, we’re diabetes specialists. Call our Goodyear, Arizona, office to book an appointment for a prediabetes assessment today.