Prediabetes is a condition in which the person has higher than normal levels of blood sugar, but they aren’t as high to be categorized under diabetes. If left untreated, the situation can turn into full-blown type 2 diabetes, heart disease or even stroke.
The good news is that prediabetes can be reversed. Those who make lifestyle changes and work to defeat the situation comprehensively are usually successful. Those who ignore the warning signs end up suffering from diabetes within a decade.
The exact reason why prediabetes as a condition develops in an individual is still a mystery. In a healthy body, when the food is eaten, it is broken down into glucose molecules. These are the smallest units that the body can use to release energy. The pancreas produces a hormone, insulin that is responsible for delivering the glucose molecules to the cells. As the food gets digested, the blood sugar levels increase, and this triggers the pancreas to release insulin. As insulin courses through in the bloodstream, the glucose gets delivered to the cells and energy is released.
In those who have this condition, either the body becomes resistant to insulin, or it doesn’t produce it in enough quantities. This leads to high blood sugar levels. If the situation is not controlled, it can snowball into diabetes.
Many risk factors contribute to the condition.
- Genes and family history have a huge role to play in a predisposition towards this health condition. If someone close to you in the family has diabetes, you need to be doubly careful about your health.
- An inactive and sedentary lifestyle is bad for your sugar health.
- A diet rich in fats, sugar, and carbohydrates is also responsible for high blood sugar levels in the blood.
- Having a high BMI (more than 25) is terrible for your health. Usually, those who are overweight or obese tend to have higher than acceptable BMIs.
- Waist size also influences those with prediabetes. For men more than 40 inches and for women more than 35 inches of waist size is an open invitation to this condition.
- Those women who have had gestational diabetes are at risk of developing this and diabetes.
- Those women who have been suffering from PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) are at risk of this condition because PCOS increases insulin resistance.
- Sleep patterns also influence glucose metabolism in the body. Insomniacs and those who suffer sleep disorders increase their susceptibility towards diabetes.
- Those who suffer from high blood pressure at more vulnerable to prediabetes.
- Those who have a high level of triglycerides and low levels of HDL (good cholesterol) in their blood are also at risk of developing prediabetes.
- Age is another factor that affects predisposition towards prediabetes. After 45 years, both men and women are more vulnerable to prediabetes.
While there are no apparent symptoms of prediabetes, there are certain warning signs. Darkened skin on the body, especially, neck, armpits, knees, elbows, and knuckles region. Other warning signs are:
Increased Thirst: High blood sugar levels are responsible for creating a more dehydrated environment in the body. This makes the person very thirsty.
Frequent Urination: Since the person ends up drinking so many fluids, the body throws out the excess water as urine. Another reason why frequent urination happens is that there is a high level of blood sugar. This creates toxicity in the body and signals the kidneys to throw out the excess sugar as urine.
Fatigue: Since the person cannot utilize the glucose released from food, he continually feels fatigued and has low energy levels.
Blurred Vision: Fluctuating sugar levels lead to a blurring in the vision. The eyes can look because of a lens present in them. This lens bends and stretches to form images. Due to a high amount of glucose in the blood, the lens loses its flexibility. In most cases, if the sugar is brought under control, it leads to restoration of vision.
Frequent Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs): Those women who have prediabetes suffer from frequent UTIs. The high sugar in the body provides a conducive environment for the viruses and bacteria to prosper leading to frequent infections in the genital organs.
It can be diagnosed with the help of simple blood tests. Three tests can be conducted:
- OGTT: This is the Oral Glucose Tolerance Test. The doctor advises eating nothing post-dinner the night before. Early morning after taking a blood sample, a glucose drink is given to the person. Two hours later another blood sample is taken. If the blood glucose level after two hours comes between 144- 190 mg/dL, you have prediabetes.
- Fasting Plasma Glucose Test (FPG): This is similar to OGTT. After your dinner the night before, you are not supposed to eat anything. In the morning, a blood sample is taken. If the blood glucose comes between 100 and 125 mg/dL, you have prediabetes.
In most cases of prediabetes, lifestyle changes are recommended. Your doctor will guide you on how to improve the situation, but the following points are usually mentioned.
- Weight Management
Weight loss, as less as five to 10%, can reduce the risks of developing diabetes. Those who are overweight or obese are more at risk of high sugar levels.
- Diet Control
Eating a high fiber diet with lots of fruits and vegetable and whole grains is recommended to improve the health.
- Low Carbohydrate Diet
Many people feel that eating a low carbohydrate diet helps to reduce sugar levels. Replace carbs with protein to stay healthy.
Exercising helps to reduce the blood glucose levels and improve mood. Even a 30-minute walk, five days a week can work wonders.
If left untreated, prediabetes can have serious complications. Apart from diabetes, the following complications can develop.