What You Should Know about Prediabetes

If your blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be diagnosed as type 2 diabetes, then you have a serious medical condition known as prediabetes.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, health data through 2018 indicates that 88 million American adults — approximately 1 in 3 — have prediabetes, so you are not alone. Left unchecked, prediabetes can lead to type 2 diabetes, which has serious implications for your health, and specifically your eyes, kidneys, nerves, and heart.

Here is the good news: For most people, getting type 2 diabetes isn’t inevitable and neither is prediabetes.

Are there symptoms of prediabetes?

Since there are no symptoms of prediabetes, how can you tell if you have it?

Weight is one important factor. For most people, there is a direct correlation between weight and healthy or unhealthy blood sugars.

Fat is important too. There are different types of fat, and fat around the belly tends to be correlated with insulin resistance. Pay attention if you have weight gain in the abdomen, or your shape is “more like an apple than a pear.”

The results of your lipid panel at your annual checkup provide more clues. They can help to determine if you have begun to have insulin resistance, which is present in both prediabetes and diabetes.

Five 5 Factors of Insulin Resistance

If you get an annual physical, your primary care provider (PCP) will likely order a lipid panel blood test that measures different kinds of blood fats, including HDL (high-density lipoprotein, aka “good fat,”), LDL (low-density lipoprotein, aka “bad fat,”), total cholesterol, and triglycerides. Some of these lipids along with other factors can indicate that a person has insulin resistance.

If you have any three of the following insulin resistance markers, you may have Insulin Resistance Syndrome, which increases your risk of type 2 diabetes.

  • High triglycerides
  • Low HDL (aka, “good cholesterol”)
  • Difficulty controlling blood pressure
  • Difficulty controlling blood sugars, based upon an abnormal fasting blood sugar or HgB A1c
  • Having a waist circumference of more than 35 inches in females or 40 inches in males

Can medications cause increased blood sugar levels?

Yes, certain medications can affect blood sugar levels. It is important to have a discussion with your PCP to check for these side effects and to consider your options.

How to Avoid Prediabetes

The good news is that prediabetes is reversible. Statin medications can help raise your HDL, but they are no substitute for following a healthy diet and exercising. The best way to avoid prediabetes is to practice the following:

  • Eat healthy foods in appropriate quantities.
  • Make exercise part of your daily routine.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Limit your intake of alcohol.
  • Control your blood pressure and cholesterol.
  • Don’t smoke.
  • Get an annual checkup to keep an eye on your lipid profile.

The Bottom Line

Even if other family members have prediabetes, following these important steps will go a long way toward giving you a healthier life that doesn’t involve issues with controlling your blood sugar.  

Learn more about the St. Joe’s Diabetes Education program and Diabetes Prevention Program.

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