By: Alice Saracho
Prediabetes is a condition in which the blood glucose levels of a person are higher than normal but not quite high enough for a diagnosis of diabetes. Some doctors and medical journals refer to the condition as impaired fasting glucose (IFG) or impaired glucose tolerance (IGT). Whatever you call it, somewhere between 35 and 54 million Americans in the United States have prediabetes with the number increasing every year.
If you have prediabetes or IFG, you have higher than normal odds of eventually getting diabetes. In fact, it is often a pre-cursor to diabetes as a person nearly always has prediabetes before he gets diabetes. A person with prediabetes is also more prone to developing heart disease and strokes. The good news, however, is that if you have prediabetes and you begin life style changes involving better eating habits and more exercise, you have a good chance of staving off diabetes.
What does prediabetes mean for your body? It's a sign that the cells in your body are becoming insulin resistant. The body requires insulin in order to change sugar, starches, and other foods into glucose that the body can use. Without insulin, the body is unable to process the sugar. The sugar has nowhere to go and accumulates in the bloodstream resulting in high blood sugar levels. If the blood sugar level is constantly elevated, odds are that diabetes is present.
The majority of people with prediabetes have no idea that they have it. Because it has no signs, prediabetes has to be tested for. The test simple. It involves measuring the percentage of glucose in the bloodstream. The blood glucose level is tested both before and after eating. A person with normal levels of blood glucose will have results of lower than 100 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl). A 100-126 mg/dl level of glucose before eating and a 140-199 mg/dl level of glucose after eating, is a sign of prediabetes.
Statistically, some nationalities such as Hispanics, African American, Asian Americans, Inuit, and Native Americans, are at a greater risk of being diagnosed with diabetes than others. Another risk factor is weight. An overweight person has an increased risk of prediabetes. Other risk factors are family history, high blood pressure or hypertension, and elevated levels of triglycerides. Elderly people are more likely to develop the disease as well. If you are near or over the age of 50, you should request that your doctor or health care specialist give you a blood glucose level test. Testing allows those at risk to be identified early enough for something to be done before its too late.
About 25% of every person with prediabetes comes down with diabetes within 3 to 5 years. Many of the rest advance to full blown diabetes within ten years. Even so, it's not inevitable that prediabetes will lead to diabetes. This is why early intervention is critical in preventing prediabetes from escalating to diabetes. Many times simple life style changes such as losing weight, eating less processed foods, eating more high glycemic foods, and starting a minimal exercise program are all that is needed to halt the disease in its tracks.
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