Did you know you could have the health condition known as prediabetes and not even know it? It’s true. In fact, the American Diabetes Association estimates that 79 million American adults are living with prediabetes.
Prediabetes occurs when blood glucose levels are higher than normal yet too low to qualify for a diabetes diagnosis or present noticeable symptoms. Having prediabetes is almost always present before developing Type 2 diabetes and its increased risk for complications such as blindness, heart attack, stroke and amputations.
Symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes
With Type 1 diabetes, which usually occurs in childhood, the pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin or no insulin at all. In Type 2 diabetes, the body either doesn’t produce enough insulin or can’t properly use the insulin that is produced. Unlike prediabetes, Type 2 diabetes patients can have noticeable symptoms including:
- Thirst: One of the first symptoms may be an increase in thirst that’s often accompanied by unusually frequent urination.
- Headaches: As blood glucose levels become more abnormal, headaches, blurred vision and chronic fatigue may be experienced.
- Infections: Sores that are slow to heal, especially in the feet.
- Tingling or numbness in the hands, legs and/or feet.
Risk Factors include being overweight; leading a sedentary lifestyle; high blood pressure; race or ethnicity (Hispanics and African-Americans have a higher-than-average risk); and family history (having a parent or sibling with diabetes boosts your risk); and age (being 45 and older increases your risk).
It’s often preventable
One of the most astonishing things about Type 2 diabetes is that the condition is often preventable. To lower your risk:
- Eat a healthy, portion-controlled diet.
- Exercise for 30 minutes, five days a week.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
If diagnosed in the early stages, doctors can offer lifestyle strategies and medications to help prevent or postpone the onset of Type 2 diabetes. If concerned, don’t delay in seeing your doctor.
By Dr. Victor Simms, M.D., F.A.C.P.
Internal Medicine at Kelsey-Seybold’s Pasadena Clinic