What is Prediabetes?

What is Prediabetes

How much do you know about diabetes? While it’s common to think that it’s a condition that happens when a person eats unhealthy foods and is sedentary, the reality is that such a statement oversimplifies the illness. There are two types of diabetes. Type I is a chronic autoimmune disorder with an unknown cause. Then there’s Type II diabetes, which is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States. And, unlike Type I diabetes, diet and being sedentary are direct causes of the condition. But before you get Type II diabetes, you get prediabetes — a warning sign telling you that, unless you make lifestyle changes, you are placing your health and your life at risk.

What is prediabetes?

Prediabetes is the term used when a person’s blood sugar levels are higher than what’s healthy — however, it’s not high enough to be considered diabetes. The reason why prediabetes is so dangerous is that, unless you make immediate life modifications, it will develop into Type II diabetes. This can have life-threatening complications, such as narrowing blood vessels — which increases the risk of high blood pressure, heart attack, or stroke. It may also result in nerve damage, kidney damage, and fungal infections.

If you’ve been diagnosed with prediabetes, it’s important to get checked for Type II diabetes every year. This will help determine if your lifestyle modifications are working.

Causes of Prediabetes

The causes of prediabetes are lifestyle factors, such as a lack of regular physical activity and eating the standard American diet — e.g. high in processed foods, added sugars, and not eating enough fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

Being overweight and storing excess fat around the abdomen also increases the risk of developing prediabetes and diabetes. And, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 18% of children and 42% of adults in the United States are overweight or obese. Therefore, it’s crucial to get blood screenings every year to determine whether you’re at risk of prediabetes or diabetes.

Symptoms of Prediabetes

In most individuals, prediabetes doesn’t have any symptoms. However, it’s common for prediabetic people to notice a darkening of the skin on the neck, armpits, elbow bend, and behind the knees.

Once a person starts experiencing actual symptoms that something may be wrong, they’re already in the beginning stages of Type II diabetes. These include:

  • Fatigue
  • Blurred vision
  • Increased thirst
  • Frequent urination

Diagnosis of Prediabetes

Prediabetes is diagnosed through different types of blood tests. The A1C test measures your average blood sugar for the past several months. Fasting Plasma Glucose (FPG) is another test that has to be conducted first thing in the morning, before you’ve had anything to eat. An oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) checks your blood sugar levels before and after you’ve had a specially prepared sweet drink. This last test is designed to let healthcare professionals understand how your body processes sugar.

Treatment and Prevention of Prediabetes

Treating prediabetes and preventing Type II diabetes requires long-term lifestyle changes. These include:

1. Eating Healthy

Make sure that most of your meals include vegetables, whole grains, and fruit. These are low in calories and nutrient-dense. Pay close attention to fiber and protein so that you feel satisfied and fuller for longer. Choose whole foods instead of the processed variety. Substitute sodas for flavored sparkling water. Keep healthy foods available for snacking — such as apple slices and almond butter, carrots and hummus, pistachios, or berries.

2. Exercising Regularly

For many people, the thought of exercise sounds like a chore. However, there are ways to make it enjoyable — such as going on long walks with a friend, dancing, creating a playlist with your favorite music to listen to while you’re on a treadmill, downloading apps to track your progress, and/or purchasing Wii Fit games. You can also find YouTube videos to keep you moving — whether you prefer cardio, yoga, or weight training.

3. Maintaining a Healthy Weight

If you’re overweight, losing excess pounds will reduce the risk of Type II diabetes. If you’re not sure what your ideal weight range would be, a good starting point is to determine your body mass index (BMI). A healthy BMI ranges between 18.5 and 24.9. To find out yours, use a BMI calculator. A BMI between 25 and 29.9 is considered to be overweight, while anything 30 or greater is considered to be obese. If you have a high BMI, make an appointment with your doctor to discuss your options.

If You Need Blood Screenings or Help to Manage Prediabetes, Nurse Practitioners of Florida Can Help

At Nurse Practitioners of Florida, we have a dedicated team of certified nurse practitioners who have an unwavering commitment to providing you with care and compassion. When you call any of our locations, you will be greeted by a live person who’s ready to offer acute medical care as well as preventive measures — including flu vaccines. And, above everything else, you will be treated like family.

If you need assistance, call us or fill out our online contact form.