Pre-Diabetes - Should You Be Concerned
If you are lucky, you can be one of many that catch the slow rise of your blood sugar before it became classified as Type 2 Diabetes. Or did you catch it, but blew it off like this person I know who stated to me, "Sure my cholesterol is a little high, and I do have a small rise in my blood sugar, I feel alright, so I'm not doing to do anything about it." I wondered if this person was trying to persuade me, or she, that everything was okay. Whatever answer you may have whispered under your breath, first take a look at the facts.
According to the Mayo Clinic, if you decide not to take any action when you have the diagnoses of pre-diabetes, you can expect to see the beginning of damage to your heart and circulatory system. Some foolishly gamble with their health, when there are easy solutions to improve your health at this stage.
What Are The Physical Signs for Pre-Diabetes?
Sadly, there are usually no physical signs or symptoms for pre-diabetes. This is where my story comes in. I was having some unusual problems, mainly blurred vision. At first, I blew it off to just a simple case of fatigue. However, when I was driving home, and everything in front of me, blurred, I became very concerned. It is then that I went to my doctor, and asked for a complete physical, as well as, blood work. The results showed that I had, as my doctor told me, exorbitantly high cholesterol with high triglyceride levels and pre-diabetes. Before I tell you how I am working to change those numbers, I would like to explain to you the risk factors you should look for, in you or a loved one.
Risk Factors For Pre-Diabetes
If you do not want to have a complete physical, it is wise to have blood work done to check your cholesterol and blood glucose levels. It's best to get control of these problems before they turn into sometime that you cannot manage. Here are some factors that may put you at risk for pre-diabetes.
1. You're 45 or older
2. You have a history of diabetes in your family
3. You're overweight
4. You have high blood pressure
5. Your HDL cholesterol is below 35 mg/dL and your triglyceride level is above 5.5 mg/dl
6. You are getting only 5.5 hours or less of sleep each night.
7. Your are a woman who has had gestational diabetes or have a baby weighing more than 9 lbs.
8. If you are African American, Native American, Latinos, Pacific Islanders, you are in group that can be affected by diabetes.
If you have any of these risk factors, have some blood work done to check your glucose and cholesterol levels. Remember, there are no outward signs of pre-diabetes or cholesterol -thus, if you say, "I'm feeling fine, I have no reason to get my blood checked." You may be right, if you don't have any of the above risk factors. However, if you have these risk factors, it is wise to take the time to give your body some tender loving care.
Doctors are not quite sure what causes pre-diabetes, however, it is clear that this is the stage before the actual onset of diabetes. Is it your body giving you it's final warning before diabetes sets in? Possibly.
Let begin by explaining pre-diabetes. Pre-diabetes is also known as "impaired glucose intolerance" and this condition has no symptoms. What it simply means is that your body is insulin resistant. When you have insulin resistance it means that your muscle, fat, and liver cells do not respond properly to insulin.
For example, when you eat a meal, your blood glucose (Glucose is the sugar that is the body main source of energy) level rises, causing your pancreas to release insulin to help the cells take in and use the glucose. Eventually the pancreas cannot keep up. When that happens, you now have too much of both, glucose and insulin circulating through your body. This sets the stage for an increased chance for Type II diabetes and heart problems.
However, many doctors are beginning to recognize the importance of diagnosing and treating the pre-diabetes. Why? By treating pre-diabetes, it can help prevent additional serious health problems, which include heart and blood vessel disease, eye disease, and kidney disease.
How does your doctor determine that you have pre-diabetes? The doctor can perform two different blood tests.
1. FPG - Fasting plasma Glucose Test is a blood test in which you must fast from 8 to 12 hours before testing your blood sugar level. This test helps to determine how well your body is metabolizing glucose. If your blood test is
- Greater than 100 mg/dL but less than 125 mg/dL you are pre-diabetic
- Greater than 126 mg/dL on two or more tests you are diabetic
2. OGTT - Oral Glucose Tolerance Test your blood sugar is measured after a fast and then again 2 hours after drinking a beverage containing a large amount of glucose. If your glucose is:
- Less than 140 mg/dL it is normal
- Greater 140 mg/dL but less than 200 mg/dL you are pre-diabetes
- Greater than 200 mg/dL you have diabetes
If you have been diagnosed with pre-diabetes and you choose to intervene, you can slow or reverse the possibility of diabetes. What can you do? It comes down to simple, consistent lifestyle changes.
Pre-Diabetes-Changing your Lifestyle
Can changing your lifestyle reverse insulin resistance and pre-diabetes? Yes. The Diabetes Prevention Program and other large studies have shown that people with insulin resistance and pre-diabetes can prevent or delay diabetes.
Thus, this is an important time to throw vanity to the side and be honest with yourself, and measure just how healthy your lifestyle is, or is not. Here are some questions to ask yourself:
1. Are you eating healthy foods? Increase your fruits and vegetables and decrease your fat and calorie intake.
2. Are you incorporating physical activity in your daily routine? Walking or riding a stationary bike-5 days a week, or any form of exercise is important. Why is physical activity important? It is important because it helps muscle cells use blood glucose for energy by making the cells more sensitive to insulin.
3. Are you maintaining a healthy weight? If not, even if you lose 5% to 7% of your weight you can prevent or delay diabetes by 60%.
These simple lifestyle changes above can help you to either prevent diabetes or delay the diagnoses of diabetes by 3 to 10 years.
What Your Doctor May Do?
Your doctor may follow up with you every three months to test your blood. The purpose is to have a running baseline of how your glucose is working in your body. Once a baseline has been established, you will continue to follow up with the doctor on a yearly basis.
For me, I'm using cholesterol medicine to lower cholesterol and triglycerides, I'm slowly losing my weight, I am exercising regularly and changing my eating habits. As for my follow-up blood test for pre-diabetes, it showed that my glucose went down to 88. As for my eyesight, my eye doctor did state that if my blood sugar spikes too much it can cause blurred vision. The best way to control this situation is by watching your diet, and eating smaller and more frequent meals to keep my blood sugar level stable. Is it easy? No. But it can be done.
To conclude, pre-diabetes should not be ignored. If you choose to ignore it, diabetes and all it complications will follow you for the rest of your life. With lifestyle changes, keeping your blood pressure in the normal range, and being aware of your cholesterol numbers, you can control or possibly reverse pre-diabetes. As with anything, the choice is yours.