Prediabetes is not a well-known condition, although it plays a very important role in the development of type 2 diabetes.
Prediabetes occurs when blood sugar levels are high, but not so high that diabetes sets in. This condition occurs when insulin resistance is triggered and glucose remains in the blood.
Prediabetes is detected by performing blood tests. The earlier prediabetes is detected, the greater the chances of preventing type 2 diabetes. Unfortunately, most people with prediabetes have no idea, and that means they are doing nothing to remedy the situation in a timely manner and thus develop type 2 diabetes.
Doctors recommend that we check our blood sugar at least once a year, especially if we have weight problems, suffer from polycystic ovary syndrome or have a rich family history of diabetes.
There are also physical symptoms that the onset of prediabetes gives, but you must “listen” to your body carefully to detect them yourself, without the help of your doctor.
Lifestyle is essential in preventing diabetes, so once you know you have prediabetes, you need to make major changes to reduce your risk of diabetes.
- Shiny or scaly portions on the skin. People suffering from prediabetes can notice on the skin portions with a changed color (red, yellow, brown), but also with a special glow. Scaly skin can also indicate the presence of this condition.
- Thickened skin – thickened skin can occur due to high blood sugar.
- Gout – gout is a form of arthritis that occurs when uric acid deposits are in excess in the body and is stored in the joints, tendons and bones in the form of crystals. However, experts have found that people who suffer from gout are more likely to develop diabetes, so if you have gout, you should have tested also for prediabetes
- Hair loss – There are a number of factors that can cause hair loss, including medication, genetic factors or stress, but doctors warn us about the link between insulin resistance and hair loss.
- Chronic fatigue – It is okay to feel tired from time to time, especially with the changes of the season, when the body makes efforts to adapt to specific changes. But if you notice that fatigue is chronic and there is no cause for this problem, it is possible that insulin resistance is to blame for this problem.
Prediabetes generally has no signs or symptoms. One possible sign that you may be at high risk for type 2 diabetes is dark skin on certain parts of the body. Affected areas may include: neck, armpits, elbows, knees and finger joints.
Classic signs and symptoms that suggest you have gone from prediabetes to type 2 diabetes include: excessive thirst; frequent urination; fatigue; blurred vision.
When to go to see the doctor
Go to your doctor if you are worried about diabetes or if you have noticed any of the signs and symptoms of type 2 diabetes. Ask your doctor about screening or testing your blood glucose if you have any of the risk factors (below ) for prediabetes.
The exact cause of prediabetes is unknown, but family history and genetics appear to play an important role. Lack of physical activity and excess fat (especially abdominal fat) also appear to be important factors in the development of prediabetes.
What is clear is that people with prediabetes no longer process sugar (glucose) properly. As a result, sugar accumulates in the bloodstream instead of fulfilling its normal function of feeding the cells that make up muscles and other tissues.
Hyperglycemia or high blood sugar (a high amount of glucose in the blood) occurs when your pancreas does not produce enough insulin or when your cells become resistant to the action of insulin or when both conditions are met.
Risk factors in prediabetes
The same factors that increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes also increase the risk of developing prediabetes. These risk factors are:
- Weight – the fact that a person is overweight is a major risk factor for prediabetes. The more fatty tissue you have in your body, especially around your abdomen, the more resistant your cells will be to insulin.
- Waist circumference – a large waist circumference may indicate insulin resistance.
- Eating habits – consumption of red meat and processed meats, as well as consumption of sugar-sweetened soft drinks are associated with a higher risk of prediabetes.
- Lack of physical activity – the less active you are, the higher your risk of prediabetes. Physical activity helps you keep your weight under control, uses glucose as energy and makes your cells more sensitive to the action of insulin.
- Age – Although diabetes can develop at any age, the risk of prediabetes increases after the age of 45.
- Family history – your risk of prediabetes increases if you have a parent or sibling with type 2 diabetes.
- Gestational diabetes – if you developed this type of diabetes while you were pregnant, you and your baby have a higher risk of developing prediabetes.
- Polycystic ovary syndrome – this fairly common disease, characterized by irregular menstruation, excessive growth of hair on the face and body and obesity, increases a woman’s risk of developing prediabetes.
- Sleep – people with a certain sleep disorder (obstructive sleep apnea) have an increased risk of insulin resistance. People who work shifts or night shifts, which are more likely to cause them sleep disorders, may also have an increased risk of prediabetes or type 2 diabetes.
What to do after diagnosis
As soon as prediabetes is diagnosed, it is important not to panic. Annually, 5-10% of people with prediabetes are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Therefore, the chances of preventing this condition are extremely high. To prevent the disease from evolving, you need to change your lifestyle. Your diet should be healthy, rich in healthy foods, you should practice sports and monitor your blood sugar regularly. Your doctor will tell you more about the recommended lifestyle in such situations.