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2023-10-02 17:13:30

Pre-diabetes: Are You at Risk?

So, you're having issues with your blood sugar levels and you worry you might actually be experiencing diabetic symptoms. How can you be certain? And, if you are indeed experiencing challenges with your blood sugar levels, what can you do about it?

This blog will explore these questions and more. Let's go!

Wait, What is Diabetes?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines diabetes as a chronic condition wherein your body has a hard time turning food into energy. This can cause your blood glucose to fall out of the normal range.

But let's talk about what this looks like more specifically.

How Our Bodies Use Food

When you eat, your body breaks down the food into glucose (AKA a type of sugar). It then releases this glucose into your bloodstream. This is called blood sugar or blood glucose.

When your blood sugar goes up, it sends a signal to your pancreas to release insulin. The insulin allows the sugar in your blood to be used by your body's cells for energy!

Now, if you're diabetic, then your pancreas doesn't make enough insulin (or, the insulin just can't be used properly, which is called insulin resistance). If you're insulin resistant, the result is that too much glucose stays in your bloodstream.

Over the long run, this can lead to serious concerns like heart disease, kidney disease, nerve damage, and even a loss of vision.

The Different Types of Diabetes

There are technically three different types of diabetes:

Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 happens as a result of an autoimmune reaction, in which your body destroys the insulin-producing part of your pancreas. If you have type 1 diabetes, you'll need to take insulin every day in order to remain healthy.

Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is the most common kind. In this case, the body simply can't use insulin in the way it needs to. Developing type 2 diabetes usually takes years. Thankfully, you can usually counter it with simple lifestyle changes.

Gestational Diabetes

Gestational diabetes develops in women who are pregnant and have no history of the condition. This can put your baby at a higher risk of health problems and can increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetes later on. However, gestational diabetes typically goes away after the birth.

pregnant woman holding her belly

So, most of the time, when we're talking about diabetes, we're talking about developing type 2 diabetes, specifically.

So, What's Prediabetes, Then?

People with prediabetes have higher than normal blood sugar levels. Prediabetes means that your blood sugar isn't necessarily high enough to count as type 2 diabetes, but if the necessary lifestyle changes don't happen, that's what it could turn into.

Plus, even in people with prediabetes, the long-term damage that diabetes causes has already started. Even without that "official" diagnosis, your heart, kidneys, and blood vessels might already be struggling.

So, it's important to get your blood sugar level into a healthy range as soon as possible.

What are the Risk Factors for Prediabetes?

It's crucial to know the risk factors for prediabetes so that you can avoid type 2 diabetes later in life. The following circumstances can put you at an increased risk of developing prediabetes (and thus type 2 diabetes):

What are Normal Blood Sugar Levels?

Bearing in mind that "normal" can look different from person to person, the ideal ranges for normal fasting blood glucose concentration are between 70 mg/dL and 100 mg/dL.

Anything above 100 mg/dL means that you should take action to get your blood sugar level in a safer place.

How Can You Prevent Diabetes?

If you're concerned that type 2 diabetes might be in your future, what can you do about it? You indeed have some control over what happens next.

Simple Tips for Fighting Prediabetes/Diabetes

As we mentioned earlier, healthy lifestyle changes might be all you need to reverse prediabetes symptoms! Here are a few tips to get you started reversing prediabetes:

yoga class

Does all of this sound overwhelming? Change doesn't happen overnight. While it's in your best interest to adopt a healthier lifestyle as soon as possible, you can find ways to break this down into baby steps.

For instance, if you normally start your morning with a sugary coffee drink from your local cafe, swap it out for something a little less sweet.

Or, if you don't work out at all, go for a 15-minute walk every day after dinner.

How Do You Treat Diabetes?

Prediabetes/diabetes management varies based on what type you have and how severe it is.

For Type 1...

With type 1 diabetes, you'll need insulin, at a minimum. However, healthy eating and exercise are still a must to get your blood sugar under control.

For Type 2...

With type 2 diabetes, insulin may be required, but there's a good likelihood that you can get your blood sugar level under control through pills, by losing weight (if you're carrying excess weight), following a healthy diet, and staying active every day.

Monitoring Prediabetes with Blood Tests

You'll also want to periodically get your blood sugar levels checked via a blood test. eNational Testing's Diabetes Identification and Management panel checks your hemoglobin A1c with estimated average glucose. This test gives you a three-month average of your blood glucose. Results of this blood test are available within one business day.

Or, if your symptoms of prediabetes haven't started yet but you think you are at high risk, you might find our Diabetes Risk Profile more helpful. This set of tests checks your hemoglobin A1c and blood sugar levels to determine your likelihood of developing diabetes. Results are available within one business day.

With these tests, you can get knowledge about how your body's blood sugar has been controlled or uncontrolled over the last three months! 

An important note: Both of these tests involve a fasting blood sugar analysis. For a fasting blood sugar test, you should refrain from eating for eight to 10 hours before you provide the blood sample.

In addition to regularly getting your blood glucose levels checked, keep an eye on your blood pressure. If you're experiencing high blood pressure, the actions you're taking to manage prediabetes (maintaining a healthy body weight, etc.) should help.

chopping herbs in the kitchen

Reverse Prediabetes and Improve Your Blood Sugar Levels for a Long and Happy Life

Achieving normal blood sugar levels is within your reach. If you're concerned that you might be at risk of developing prediabetes, get a fasting plasma glucose test to get your blood sugar checked and gain more insight.

People with prediabetes can still live a good life. Speak with your healthcare provider about the necessary steps to kick this health condition to the curb and get your wellness back on track!