Developing type 2 diabetes isn’t an event that takes place overnight; instead, it’s a steady progression that can develop over many years. Before developing diabetes, you might first be diagnosed with prediabetes, which puts you at higher risk for diabetes.
In honor of National Diabetes Month, which happens every November, diabetes specialist Thomas Nguyen, MD, at Nguyen Medical Group in Boynton Beach, Florida, is highlighting prediabetes. Find out more about prediabetes and what you can do if you’ve received this diagnosis.
What is prediabetes?
A diagnosis of prediabetes means you have blood sugar levels that are elevated. However, your blood sugar levels aren’t high enough for a diagnosis of diabetes.
When you have prediabetes, your blood sugar levels aren’t usually high enough to cause serious damage yet. But, without making changes, you’re at higher risk for developing diabetes.
Symptoms of prediabetes
Unlike diabetes, prediabetes doesn’t usually have any symptoms yet. This is because your blood sugar levels aren’t usually high enough to cause classic diabetic problems like frequent urination and blurred vision.
Prediabetes usually gets diagnosed with a diabetes test, such as glycated hemoglobin or fasting blood sugar screening. Our team usually starts screening for prediabetes at age 35 at your annual physical or earlier if you have multiple risk factors for prediabetes.
Prediabetes risk factors are similar to those for type 2 diabetes and include:
- Family history of diabetes
- High blood pressure
- A history of gestational diabetes
- Smoking or tobacco use
Other conditions that can increase your risk of prediabetes include polycystic ovarian syndrome, low HDL (or good) cholesterol, and high triglyceride levels.
What to do after a prediabetes diagnosis
If a screening determines you have prediabetes, the first step is not to panic. The good news is that you’ve caught the condition early, and often, people with prediabetes never develop diabetes and can lower their blood sugar back to the healthy range.
If you have prediabetes, some of the things you can do to prevent or delay developing diabetes include:
Changing your diet
By changing how you eat, you can reduce your intake of simple sugars, lowering your blood sugar. The first step is to cut out products with added sugars, including sweets, baked goods, jam, honey, and drinks with sugar, and be mindful of your consuming foods with natural sugars, such as fruit, in moderation.
Additionally, switch out any products you eat that are simple sugars, such as white bread, for a whole grain product like whole wheat. Focus on a diet rich in lean proteins, vegetables, and legumes.
Finally, pay attention to when you eat to avoid blood sugar spikes. Try not to skip meals, make lunch your biggest meal of the day, and aim to stop eating at least three hours before you go to sleep.
Getting more active helps lower your risk of developing diabetes. Aim to get at least 30 minutes per day of moderate exercise, such as brisk walking, swimming, or cycling.
If you currently live a more sedentary lifestyle, our team can work with you to help you develop a safe and effective exercise plan.
Any form of tobacco use, including smoking, vaping, and chewing tobacco, increases your blood pressure and cholesterol and makes you more likely to develop diabetes. Our team can help you find a program or lifestyle that helps you permanently quit.
If you’re obese, you’re more likely to develop diabetes. We can make a plan with you that helps you lose weight at a safe but effective pace.
Being diagnosed with prediabetes means you’re at greater risk for developing diabetes, but it doesn’t mean developing diabetes is inevitable. With careful monitoring by our team and lifestyle changes, you can avoid or significantly postpone becoming fully diabetic, even if diabetes runs in your family.
For support managing your prediabetes, contact us today.