Prediabetes, also known as insulin resistance, is defined as having slightly elevated blood glucose levels. Having prediabetes increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes in the future if healthy lifestyle changes are not made. In the United States, approximately 38 percent of American adults are believed to have prediabetes. Unfortunately, research has shown that only about 19 percent of adults in the US with prediabetes have been told they have this condition, which is why you need to know about the warning signs of prediabetes and how you can reduce your risk of developing prediabetes.
Knowing the warning signs will protect your health and give you an opportunity to get tested and learn if you have prediabetes. If you have higher than normal glucose levels, long term damage to your kidneys, heart, and blood vessels may already be occurring. Eating a healthy diet, increasing your activity levels, and maintaining a healthy weight can help you rebalance your blood sugar levels and get them back to normal.
Who Is at Risk of Developing Prediabetes?
Prediabetes occurs when the body cannot properly digest glucose (sugar) any longer. Although researchers do not know the cause of prediabetes, they believe genetics may play a role. Other factors that may increase the risk of developing prediabetes include:
- Age – Diabetes can occur at any age; however, risk increases after the age of 45.
- Diet – Eating a diet filled with processed foods, sugary beverages, and red meat increases the risk of prediabetes.
- Family History – If you have a parent or a sibling who has type 2 diabetes, you are at an increased risk of developing prediabetes.
- Gestational Diabetes – If you had gestational diabetes (diabetes while pregnant), your risk of developing prediabetes is increased.
- High Blood Pressure – High blood pressure has been associated with insulin resistance.
- High Triglycerides – High levels of fat in the blood can increase your risk of developing prediabetes.
- Polycystic Ovary Syndrome – Women diagnosed with PCOS have a greater risk of developing prediabetes.
- Sedentary Lifestyle – Being inactive increases your risk of prediabetes.
- Sleep – Individuals with obstructive sleep apnea typically are at a greater risk of developing prediabetes.
- Tobacco Smoking – Smoking can increase the risk of insulin resistance. Furthermore, it can increase the risk of complications of prediabetes.
- Waist – Women with a waist larger than 35 inches and men with a waist larger than 40 inches are at an increased risk of developing prediabetes.
- Weight – Being overweight or obese significantly increases insulin resistance, leading to prediabetes.
Prediabetes Warning Signs
The early warning signs of prediabetes can vary from individual to individual. Oftentimes, the signs are so mild that you do not realize anything is wrong until you are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and look back at your health. Below are some common signs of prediabetes.
1. Blurry Vision
Elevated blood glucose levels can lead to damage to the eyes and the tissues surrounding the eyes. Over time, the shape of your lens can distort, resulting in focus issues. Diabetic retinopathy is the term used to describe damage to the eyes caused by high blood sugar levels.
Most prediabetics complain of feeling tired all the time. When glucose cannot properly enter cells due to insulin resistance, the cells in your body do not have the energy they need. This can lead to fatigue, irritability, loss of motivation, headaches, concentration difficulties, and slow reflexes.
3. Frequent Urination
When your body doesn’t absorb glucose, the kidneys will try to remove it from your blood. If the kidneys cannot remove it from your bloodstream fast enough, the glucose is excreted via your urine. Frequent urination is urinating more than 7 times in 24 hours. When excess glucose is removed from the body through your urine, your risk of urinary tract infections increases.
4. Increased Thirst
As the body tries to flush out excess glucose from the body, it diverts fluid from your body into the urine. This can lead to dehydration and dry mouth. When you are dehydrated, the body will make you crave water, which is the reason for increased thirst.
5. Increased Hunger
Your body uses glucose as energy. When you become insulin resistant, glucose stays in your bloodstream rather than entering your cells. When this occurs, the cells in your body think you are starving.
High glucose levels can result in damage to the nerves in your extremities. This damage is referred to as diabetic neuropathy. Neuropathy can cause tingling, burning, or pain in your extremities. Some individuals report having cold hands or feet as well. If you begin noticing numbness or tingling in your extremities, talk with your doctor as this can be an early warning sign of prediabetes.
7. Recurring Infections and Slow Healing
When your glucose levels are high, it can slow circulation, making it more difficult for your body to deliver the nutrients it needs to heal wounds. Increased blood sugar levels weaken your immunity, which can increase the frequency of infections. Prediabetes can increase your risk of ear, nose, skin, soft tissue, throat, and urinary tract infections.
Now that we have answered what are the warning signs of prediabetes, it is time to find out how to prevent it from turning into type 2 diabetes. The following lifestyle modifications can help you prevent or reverse prediabetes.
- Dietary Modifications
Removing processed foods and sugary snacks and beverages from your diet reduces insulin resistance. Replace these items with whole foods like fresh vegetables, fruit, lean proteins, whole grains, and healthy fats.
Get 30 minutes of exercise like walking, cycling, or swimming 5 days per week. You can break this down into 2 15 minute sessions a day if you cannot set aside 30 minutes at one time.
Drink at least eight 8 ounce glasses of water each day to help flush glucose from the body and prevent dehydration. Sipping water throughout the day works better than guzzling the recommended water.
- Weight Loss
Many people are surprised to find that losing as little as 5 percent of your body weight can greatly improve insulin response and reverse prediabetes.
How We Can Help?
Prediabetes can damage your organs and tissues. Unfortunately, many men and women unknowingly have higher than normal glucose levels. If you are experiencing one or more of the 7 warning signs of prediabetes, we can help. We will work with you and show you how you can get your glucose levels under control, reverse prediabetes, and protect your body from damage caused by elevated glucose levels.