Diabetes is a chronic disease that can have a major effect on your overall health and wellness. People with diabetes have difficulty controlling their blood sugar (glucose), and that means they’re at a significantly increased risk for serious health problems like heart disease, obesity, kidney disease and kidney failure, vision loss, nerve damage, and even amputation. In the U.S., millions of people have been diagnosed with diabetes. But a recent report from the CDC shows millions more may be at risk for developing diabetes, and many don’t even know it.
According to the CDC report, while about 30 million people have been diagnosed with diabetes, a whopping 84 million other men and women — about 1 in 3 adults — have pre-diabetes, making them far more likely to develop full-blown diabetes in the future. Because the symptoms of pre-diabetes can be very subtle, many of those who have pre-diabetes don’t even know they’re at risk for diabetes. Here’s what you should look for.
What is pre-diabetes?
Pre-diabetes is a condition in which your glucose levels are higher than normal but still not within the range of full-blown diabetes. If you have pre-diabetes, you have a much higher chance of developing diabetes than a person with normal blood sugar levels, and you’re also at an increased risk for other serious medical problems, including heart disease and stroke.
Like diabetes, pre-diabetes occurs when your body doesn’t process glucose the way it’s supposed to. As a result, excess glucose builds up in your bloodstream, interfering with the way your organs normally function.
Could you have pre-diabetes?
The problem with pre-diabetes is that its symptoms can be very difficult to detect, which means you could have the condition for years and not know it. Yet the condition can still be taking a toll on your body and your health. Although it may be difficult to detect pre-diabetes symptoms on your own, there are certain risk factors that make it more likely you’ll develop the condition or that may even indicate you already have it. Recognizing these risk factors is the key to getting treatment as early as possible. The most common risk factors for pre-diabetes are:
- Being overweight or obese
- Having a sedentary or inactive lifestyle
- Being 45 years of age or older
- Having a family history of diabetes
- Being diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
- Having had gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy)
- Having a personal history of heart disease or high blood pressure
People who are African-American, Latino, Native American, Pacific Islander, or Asian may also be at an increased risk for pre-diabetes as well as diabetes. If you have any of these risk factors, a simple blood test is all it takes to measure your blood sugar levels and determine if you have pre-diabetes.
Preventing progression to diabetes
Although millions of people have pre-diabetes, the good news is that there are steps you can take to prevent progression to full-blown diabetes. For many people, simple lifestyle changes are all it takes to reduce their risks and improve their overall health at the same time. At Nu Wave Medical Center, Dr. Gurprit Sekhon takes a holistic, individualized approach to care, helping patients make important changes focused on their unique risk factors.
Often, losing just a small amount of weight (ideally about 5 to 7 percent) can significantly reduce the risk of developing diabetes. Being more physically active and eating a healthier diet full of healthy grains, fruits, and vegetables are also very important for decreasing your risk for pre-diabetes and diabetes, and they can also help you avoid other serious medical problems like heart disease, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.
Know your risks
The first step toward preventing diabetes is to know your risks, and that means knowing whether or not you already have pre-diabetes. At Nu Wave Medical Center, we help patients take important steps to prevent disease and improve their overall health at every age and every stage of life. If you have any of the risk factors listed above or if you’d like to learn more about how to avoid pre-diabetes, book an appointment online today.