About 96 million Americans have prediabetes. This condition means you have high blood sugar, but not levels that are high enough to qualify as type 2 diabetes.
Prediabetes does not inevitably turn into diabetes and all its complications. You can take steps to prevent progression of the disease. We here at South Plains Rural Health Services recommend you make lifestyle changes right away to prevent prediabetes from turning into diabetes.
Prediabetes means the cells in your body don’t respond to insulin normally. Insulin is a hormone that helps your body shuttle sugar into cells, so it can be used as energy. When your body can’t produce enough insulin, the levels of sugar – or glucose – in your blood rise, setting you up for diabetes in the future.
Usually, prediabetes doesn’t cause outward symptoms, so the only way to know you have it is to be tested at an annual physical. Be sure to have your blood sugar levels tested if you have risk factors for diabetes, such as a family link, obesity, or a sedentary lifestyle.
Lifestyle changes to avoid diabetes
Although you can’t change a genetic risk factor for type 2 diabetes, many other risk factors are within your control. We recommend you make changes to your lifestyle habits if you have been diagnosed with prediabetes to prevent full-blown type 2 diabetes.
Healthy habits that you can begin to incorporate right away include:
- Eating a balanced, nutritious diet that limits refined carbohydrates like white bread and soda
- Adding at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity on most days
- Managing stress
- Getting adequate sleep
- Quitting smoking
These steps can help you reverse prediabetes. If you’re overweight, losing weight is also a recommended way to help keep prediabetes in check.
Lifestyle changes also have the added bonus of improving your heart health and keeping your blood pressure in check.
Indications that you have full-blown diabetes
There’s no guarantee that lifestyle changes will prevent full-blown diabetes. But, if you have prediabetes and don’t do anything – it is pretty certain that you’ll develop the disease.
You should seek immediate care if you notice symptoms of type 2 diabetes, including changes in vision, unexplained fatigue, or increased hunger or thirst. A lot of the time, however, you won’t know you’ve developed full-blown diabetes until you’ve received a blood test. That means the disease is silently harming your body without you knowing it.
Once you receive a diagnosis of diabetes, lifestyle changes are still important to managing your condition. We may also offer medications in addition to helping you change your diet, exercise, and living habits.
Staying on top of your disease helps you avoid major complications, such as kidney or nerve damage, vision or hearing loss, heart disease, and foot problems. If you do have type 2 diabetes, we’ll want to keep in close connection and have you come in for regular check-ups.
If you have risk factors for diabetes or are older than age 45, it’s important to get your blood sugar evaluated. If you have prediabetes, we can help you take the necessary action to prevent further progression of disease. Call South Plains Rural Health today, or use our online booking tool to schedule your appointment.