Have you noticed lately that you feel tired all the time? Are you having issues with your vision, or have you gained around five to ten pounds that you just can’t seem to lose? These are small disruptions in your life that you might not pay too much attention to as you go about your week, but all these signs taken together could actually be the sign of something much more serious: pre-diabetes.
According to the CDC, pre-diabetes affects more than 86 million Americans, and without making some proper adjustments to their lifestyles, 15-30% of people who have pre-diabetes will develop type 2 diabetes within the next five years. This is why knowing the symptoms of pre-diabetes and how to prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes is vital, especially as we age.
One of the problems about pre-diabetes is that sometimes there really just aren’t any symptoms to look out for. However, there are factors that can put you at higher risk, such as having family history of diabetes, being overweight, being 45 years or older, having high blood pressure, and even your race, as African-Americans, Hispanics, American Indians and Asian-Americans can be more at risk.
When you have pre-diabetes, your body isn’t processing glucose as it should. When your pancreas isn’t making enough insulin, sugar can build up in the bloodstream and therefore won’t properly fuel your cells, or your cells start to become insulin-resistant.
While they can be difficult to spot, here are a few pre-diabetes symptoms you should know:
- Unexplained or sudden weight gain or loss: Resistance to insulin can make you feel hungry all the time and lead to weight gain. Or, if your body isn’t getting the energy it needs from blood glucose, it can start utilizing other things for fuel which can result in sudden weight loss.
- Blurry vision: When your blood sugar spikes and dips, your eyesight can become impaired or blurred. Getting your sugar levels back to the correct range can eliminate this blurriness.
- Fatigue: Insulin resistance due to pre-diabetes makes your body unable to process glucose into energy, which can leave you feeling tired all the time or even cause flu-like symptoms.
- Increased thirst: All the excess sugar in your bloodstream can make you feel extremely thirsty. This is one of the most common symptoms of pre-diabetes, and can lead to dehydration as your body continues to try to flush out the excess sugar into your urine.
- Bruises or wounds that won’t heal: If you notice minor cuts or bruises that don’t seem to heal as they should, this can also be due to pre-diabetes as high blood sugar can slow your circulation, promoting the growth of bacteria or fungi on your skin.
- Darkening of the skin in certain areas: If the skin on areas like your elbows, armpits and neck starts to darken, this is a condition called acanthosis nigricans and is caused by high insulin levels speeding up the rate at which your skin cells reproduce.
The good news is that pre-diabetes is a condition that can be treated and reversed. Making some healthy lifestyle choices is the first step in prevention of type 2 diabetes. Losing just 5-10% of your body weight can help delay the onset of pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes. For example, choosing foods that are low in fat and calories and high in fiber are important elements of a pre-diabetic diet. You should also aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise each day, breaking it up into smaller sessions if needed, and make sure to take your medications regularly.
Also, if you’re showing any of the above symptoms, make an appointment to see your doctor. The longer pre-diabetes goes undiagnosed, the greater the risk becomes of it turning into type 2 diabetes.
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