So…do I have Diabetes or Not?

What to do with a pre-diabetes diagnosis.

SandyAndrews_thumbBy Sandy Andrews, RN, CDE at Southwest Health

The numbers don’t lie—1 in 3 American adults have prediabetes and only 1 in 10 knows they have it! But prediabetes is a very common condition that can be prevented or improved with lifestyle changes and education. Let’s face it; there are millions of reasons why we don’t find the time to make healthy lifestyle choices. Kids, jobs, smartphones — we’re busy. But whatever your reason, prediabetes is real!

Prediabetes means a person’s blood glucose (sugar) level is higher than normal, but not high enough yet to be diagnosed with full type 2 diabetes, a condition that occurs when your cells become resistant to insulin and can no longer properly absorb the sugar in your body. People with prediabetes are on the road to developing type 2 diabetes and are also at increased risk for serious health problems, such as stroke and heart disease.

There are not usually symptoms when you have prediabetes, however there is a simple blood test that can be done to diagnose this. Also there are several risk factors increasing your likelihood for developing prediabetes. Some of these risk factors cannot be controlled such as age and family history. However, there are some lifestyle changes that will decrease your risk, such as making healthier food choices, increasing physical activity, and weight loss. The earlier people are diagnosed with prediabetes, the more likely they can REVERSE it and prevent type 2 diabetes.

In my experience providing diabetes education, I find it important to understand not everyone with prediabetes will have significant risk factors. I have seen people with minimal or no risk factors diagnosed with prediabetes, gestational diabetes, and type 2 diabetes. The American Diabetes Association recommends testing everyone, particularly those who are overweight or obese, beginning at age 45. If tests are normal, it’s recommended everyone is rechecked every three years. Testing to detect prediabetes should also be considered in people under 45, including children and adolescents who are overweight or obese and those who have two or more risk factors for diabetes.

March 22 was Diabetes Alert Day. This day, always the fourth Tuesday in March, was a nationwide, focused effort to alert people to the risk for diabetes and the seriousness of the condition, especially when left undiagnosed or untreated. A recently launched CDC campaign has a simple but strong message: “No one is excused from prediabetes. Take the risk test today!”

The vision of Southwest Health is to create a healthier Southwest Wisconsin. Southwest Health has an amazing team of professionals who work together to provide the very best possible care in keeping you and your family healthy. Take a few minutes to discuss your risks you’re your practitioner. This, alone, may help prevent or delay the development of type 2 diabetes later in life. And this simple step may even save your life!

Sandy Andrews RN, CDE
Diabetes Education Program Coordinator
Direct (608) 342-4709

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