What You Need to Know About Pre-Diabetes
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What You Need to Know About Pre-Diabetes

Pre-diabetes is, as the name suggests, the early stage leading up to the full blown disease of diabetes. To be pre-diabetic, it means you have blood glucose levels that are higher than normal, but not high enough to qualify as diabetes. Glucose is a form of sugar that our bodies utilize to make energy. Too much glucose in your blood can, over time, damage your body. Pre-diabetes is also known as impaired fasting glucose or impaired glucose tolerance.

About 41 million people, 40% of adults aged 40 to 74, all have pre-diabetes. For many people with pre-diabetes, it will develop into type 2 diabetes within 10 years. Having pre-diabetes makes you more likely to develop a number of chronic or acute illnesses, such as heart disease, stroke, and, obviously, type 2 diabetes. Being overweight, obese, or physically inactive all contribute to pre-diabetes. Sometimes, pre-diabetes can be reversed with weight loss, that comes from healthy eating and physical activity.

Most people who have pre-diabetes have no symptoms at all. Routine blood testing by your medical practitioner will measure the amounts of glucose in your blood and determine if the levels are higher than normal. If your blood glucose is high after an overnight fast, but not high enough to be diabetes, then the condition is IFG, or impaired fasting glucose. If the test of blood glucose determines the levels to be high after a two hour oral glucose tolerance test, but again, not quite high enough to count as diabetes, then you’re pre-diabetic with IGT, or impaired glucose tolerance. It is possible to have both IFG and IGT, as the two forms of pre-diabetes are not mutually exclusive. If you’ve been diagnosed with pre-diabetes, then you should be tested for diabetes every year or two. If you’re not currently undergoing annual physicals with your healthcare provider, then starting would be a great way to monitor your pre-diabetes, as well as a whole other host of potential health problems.

If you are over 45, you should be tested for pre-diabetes, especially if you are overweight, meaning a BMI of over 25. BMI is a measure of weight relative to height, but your medical provider can give you an exact measurement. In addition to being overweight, there are a significant number of health risks to keep in mind.

  • Physical activity less than three times per week, under the recommended 150 minutes a week that health officials recommend.
  • A family history of diabetes, a diagnosis in a parent, or sibling.
  • Hypertension.
  • Abnormally high levels of HDL cholesterol, also known as bad cholesterol, or triglycerides, or low levels of LDL, the “good” cholesterol.
  • Developed gestational diabetes while pregnant, or gave birth to a baby weighing more than nine pounds.
  • Are African-American, American Indian, Hispanic/Latino, Asian American, or Pacific Islander
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome
  • Dark, thick, velvety skin around your neck or in your armpits

Because most pre-diabetics are overweight, reducing your body weight is the best way to get the disease under control. Losing 5 to 10 percent of your starting weight can prevent or delay diabetes, or even reverse pre-diabetes.