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What is Prediabetes? Know why it's important to you
Prediabetes is a health concern that should be on everyone’s radar. It’s a largely preventable condition with significant health risks and has grown significantly in the United States. According to the study, “Do Behavioral Risk Factors for Prediabetes and Insulin Resistance Differ across the Socioeconomic Gradient?” published in the International Journal of Endocrinology in September of 2014, the “prevalence of type 2 diabetes continues to rise and currently affects over 25 million Americans and is estimated to reach 439 million adults worldwide by 2030.” Not surprisingly, the occurrence of prediabetes is also increasing, “affecting approximately one in three U.S. adults” over 20 years old, that is an alarming 79 million individuals. One in three adults is reaching epidemic proportions and a canary in the mine because having prediabetes is a sign of developing type 2 diabetes. Prediabetes raises the risk of type 2 diabetes by 3 to 10 fold, and it’s estimated that up to 70% of people with prediabetes develop type 2 diabetes during their lifetime. Given the high rates of prediabetes and the potential health risks, is disconcerting that only 7% are aware that they had prediabetes and that very few of the public-at-large know the risks and symptoms of prediabetes.
What is Prediabetes?
According to the Joslin Diabetes Center, Prediabetes occurs when blood glucose levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be diabetes. See the chart here for where blood glucose levels should be. According to Joslin, someone has impaired fasting glucose when they have a fasting plasma blood glucose in the 100-125 mg/dl range. Alternatively someone has impaired glucose tolerance if they are given an oral glucose tolerance test and their blood glucose level is between 140 and 199 mg/dl. Both of these terms “impaired glucose tolerance” are “impaired fasting glucose” are medical terminology for prediabetes. Blood glucose levels rise when there is insulin resistance (IR). IR “is a condition in which the body produces insulin but does not use it effectively. When people have insulin resistance, glucose builds up in the blood instead of being absorbed by the cells, leading to type 2 diabetes or prediabetes” (www.hindawi.com/journals).
Symptoms of Prediabetes
So few know they have prediabetes because the disease develops gradually, and there may be no disarming symptoms. Here are the signs to look out for according to www.endocrineweb.com:
you’re hungrier than normal
you’re losing weight, despite eating more
you’re thirstier than normal
you have to go to the bathroom more frequently
you’re more tired than usual
These are all typical symptoms of diabetes. If you are in the early stages of diabetes, you may have these symptoms as well.
Preventing Prediabetes and Diabetes
Diabetes is a chronic illness that causes serious consequences to one's health. If you have diabetes it “means you have too much glucose in your blood...Too much glucose can lead to serious health problems” (Mayo Clinic). Luckily, for someone with prediabetes or IR, there is growing evidence that prediabetes is preventable and treatable through habitual physical activity (www.cfp.ca). According to EndocrineWeb, there are three things you can do to bring your blood glucose level back to normal: “eating healthy food, losing weight and staying at a healthy weight, and being physically active.”
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