Are you one of the 1 in 3 U.S. adults who has prediabetes? Chances are, you don’t even know it.
A serious health condition, prediabetes occurs when a person’s blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not quite to the point to be considered type 2 diabetes. Prediabetes is a serious illness, and puts a person at risk of developing type 2 diabetes, stroke or heart disease.
November is the month to spotlight Diabetes Education, to encourage people to self-manage their disease by eating healthy, getting active, taking medication, reducing risks and finding healthy ways to cope with this chronic disease.
It’s important to know what causes diabetes if you’re going to manage your health. Insulin is a hormone made by the pancreas that acts like a key to let blood sugar into cells for use as energy. But for those with prediabetes, the cells in the body don’t respond to insulin in a normal way. The pancreas works overtime to make more insulin to get the cells to respond, but the organ eventually can’t keep up. A person’s blood sugar rises – leading to the onset of prediabetes and potentially to a more serious form of the illness.
A simple blood test can tell you if you meet the prediabetes risk factors, which also include:
• Being overweight
• Being 45 years or older
• Having a parent or sibling with type 2 diabetes
• Being physically active fewer than 3 times weekly
• Ever having gestational diabetes, or giving birth to a baby weighing more than 9 pounds
• Having polycystic ovary syndrome
There are other factors that may enter into whether you present with prediabetes, including your race and ethnicity. African Americans, Hispanic/Latino Americans, American Indians, Pacific Islanders and some Asian Americans are at higher risk.
Losing a small amount of weight can make a difference if you have prediabetes. That small amount, or around 5 to 7 percent of your body weight, may mean just 10 to 14 pounds lost for a 200-pound person.
Taking part in routine physical activity can also decrease your chances of being diagnosed with a more serious type of diabetes. Getting at least 150 minutes – or 2.5 hours – of an activity such as brisk walking can make a difference. Try for just 30 minutes, five days a week.
The Centers for Disease Control now has a National Diabetes Prevention Program to help people make lifestyle changes to prevent, or delay, this type of diabetes. The program (https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/prevention/index.html) can help you make changes for a healthier lifestyle. Through the program, you can lower your risk of developing type 2 diabetes by as much as 58 percent. Programs are available online, and offer a wide array of services to help with lifestyle changes.
Our Patient Education program called “Emmi” is an online tool to help you manage a chronic condition such as diabetes. Sign yourself up to one of our Emmi educational online sessions and learn more.