If you have high blood sugar but are not at Type 2 diabetes levels, you may get a prediabetes diagnosis. Prediabetes is a serious health condition, and many patients take it as a wake-up call to make lifestyle changes. The bad news is that 96 million American adults (more than 1 in 3) have prediabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control. The good news is prediabetes is reversible. You can stop it in its tracks and avoid the slide into diabetes with diet, exercise, and weight loss.
What Are The Risk Factors and Warning Signs of Prediabetes?
Prediabetes often has no easily discernible symptoms. It’s one reason adults need to keep an annual physical in their self-care practice. Your primary care provider usually screens for diabetes/prediabetes during regular checkups. We can catch it early through routine blood work. However, there are some notable risk factors for prediabetes, including:
- Being overweight.
- Being over 45.
- Having a family history of diabetes, especially a parent or sibling diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.
- Having gestational diabetes during pregnancy.
- Having polycystic ovary syndrome.
- Race and ethnicity also play a role. According to the CDC, African Americans, Hispanic/Latino Americans, American Indians, Pacific Islanders, and some Asian Americans are at higher risk.
How Do I Find Out If I Have Prediabetes?
If you have risk factors or symptoms, make sure your primary care doctor includes a blood sugar test in your blood work. There are three main tests, and any of them can effectively diagnose prediabetes.
- The fasting blood sugar test measures your blood sugar after an overnight fast. The test measures sugar levels in milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL). Sugar levels of 100 to 125 mg/dL indicate prediabetes, while 126 mg/dL or higher indicates diabetes.
- The hemoglobin A1C test measures average blood sugar levels over the last three months by checking the levels of sugar attached to hemoglobin proteins in your blood cells. It provides a big-picture view of your blood sugar status. Providers often recommend an A1C test for adults with risk factors including high blood pressure and obesity.
- A glucose tolerance test measures your blood sugar before and after drinking a liquid that contains glucose. It’s considered more sensitive to prediabetes than the other two tests but is more time-consuming (patients wait 2 hours after consuming the drink for their second test).
Can Prediabetes Be Cured?
The good news is that prediabetes is reversible through diet, exercise and weight loss. Many patients take a prediabetes diagnosis as a chance to make changes to avoid diabetes. If weight loss is a concern, talk with your doctor about seeing a dietician or starting a medically supervised weight loss program. Insurance companies often cover these services for diabetic and prediabetic patients.
How Can I Prevent Prediabetes?
Self-care and seeing your primary care provider regularly for wellness checks are two ways to help prevent prediabetes.
- Eat a healthy diet, including vegetables, fruits, whole grains and healthy proteins. Make sugary treats for special occasions instead of an everyday habit.
- Stay physically active by joining a gym, walking regularly or finding a sport or athletic activity you enjoy.
- Visit your primary care provider yearly. The standard battery of tests can identify potential problems early.
- Quit smoking and tobacco use.
- Limit alcohol: it can cause unhealthy fluctuations in blood sugar.
Preventing and Diagnosing Prediabetes at CPC
At Comprehensive Primary Care, our whole-patient focus means careful attention to nutrition, health and fitness. We want to help patients avoid prediabetes. If they get a high blood sugar diagnosis, we’ll work with them to prevent the dangerous slide into full-blown Type 2 diabetes. Some of our services include:
- A physician-directed weight management program.
- Nutritional consultations for weight loss.
- Nutritional support for medical conditions (including diabetes and prediabetes).
- A full-time staff dietician.
Remember, when weight and fitness are connected with other conditions, including diabetes and prediabetes, we can usually keep out-of-pocket costs low for weight management programs. Insurance companies know that keeping patients healthy instead of waiting for the problem to become worse benefits everyone. Catching prediabetes early and taking steps to prevent it from going further is one of the best things you can do for your health.