-by Dee Meerdink, RN, Diabetes Care Coordinator
November is National Diabetes Month. The focus is to bring attention to the increasing number of people who develop diabetes and how to prevent Type 2 diabetes. The numbers really are staggering: One out of every 10 people have diabetes in the US – and it continues to increase. Even more astonishing is that 1 out of every 3 have prediabetes. Of those with prediabetes, more than 84% don’t know they have it. So what is prediabetes and why should you care?
Prediabetes is a serious health condition where blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough yet to be diagnosed as type 2 diabetes. Prediabetes puts you at increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. The good news is that if you have prediabetes, you can make lifestyle changes to prevent or delay type 2 diabetes and other serious health problems.
What Causes Prediabetes?
Insulin is a hormone made by your pancreas that acts like a key to let blood sugar into cells for use as energy. If you have prediabetes, the cells in your body don’t respond normally to insulin. Your pancreas makes more insulin to try to get cells to respond. Eventually your pancreas can’t keep up, and your blood sugar rises, setting the stage for prediabetes—and type 2 diabetes down the road.
Signs & Symptoms
You can have prediabetes for years but have no clear symptoms, so it often goes undetected until serious health problems such as type 2 diabetes show up. It’s important to talk to your doctor about getting your blood sugar tested if you have any of the risk factors for prediabetes, which include:
- Being overweight
- Being 45 years or older
- Having a parent, brother, or sister with type 2 diabetes
- Being physically active less than 3 times a week
- Ever having gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy) or giving birth to a baby who weighed more than 9 pounds
- Having polycystic ovary syndrome
Race and ethnicity are also a factor: African Americans, Hispanic/Latino Americans, American Indians, Pacific Islanders, and some Asian Americans are at higher risk.
Simple Blood Sugar Test
You can get a simple blood sugar test to find out if you have prediabetes. Ask your doctor if you should be tested.
Preventing Type 2 Diabetes
If you have prediabetes, losing a small amount of weight if you’re overweight and getting regular physical activity can lower your risk for developing type 2 diabetes. A small amount of weight loss means around 5% to 7% of your body weight, just 10 to 14 pounds for a 200-pound person. Regular physical activity means getting at least 150 minutes a week of brisk walking or a similar activity. That’s just 30 minutes a day, five days a week.
Making small consistent changes can make a big difference in your health! At OCAHS, we do offer prediabetes class every month. You can contact our Diabetes Care Coordinator if you have questions or concerns at 712-737-5311.