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Prediabetes and Diabetes Prevention

by Louise July 23rd, 2015 | Health Observance, Prevention
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sadAccording to the American Diabetes Association, 25.8 million Americans are living with diabetes. Of these millions of people, only 18.8 million people are diagnosed, which means that an estimated 7.0 million Americans, children and adults, are living with undiagnosed diabetes.

There are two main types, known simply as Type 1 and Type 2. Type 1 diabetes affects children and young adults who can’t make their own insulin. Insulin is a hormone that helps the body convert sugar and starches into energy needed for daily life. Insulin issues can lead to nerve, kidney, and heart damage.  Each year, diabetes is listed as the underlying cause or contributing cause in over 200,000 deaths. Though Type 1 diabetes is treatable, it is not preventable or curable and requires lifelong insulin therapy. However, it is estimated that 90-95% of those with diabetes actually have Type 2 diabetes, which is largely preventable. This is why prevention should be a top priority for those with increased risk (e.g. having a family history of the disease or being overweight).

What about the condition called prediabetes? Someone with prediabetes won’t necessarily develop Type 2 diabetes, however, they are more likely to. It is estimated that prediabetes is prevalent in 79 million Americans. That’s nearly a quarter of the country! It’s easy to see why fighting prediabetes and preventing diabetes is an incredibly important step Americans need to take in order to improve the health of our nation.

Prediabetes is characterized by higher blood glucose levels than normal, but not high enough to qualify as Type 2. It is also known as Impaired Glucose Tolerance (IGT) or Impaired Fasting Glucose (IFG). Doctors can diagnose prediabetes bases on three different tests: a fasting plasma glucose test (FPG), oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT), or an A1C test. It is important to know that prediabetes doesn’t always (or even often) have symptoms. Your first signs might be subtle: slow healing cuts or bruises, unusual thirst, or extreme fatigue. Knowing your risk for prediabetes and diabetes is hugely important in helping you and your doctor determine how often you should be tested.

Diabetes prevention doesn’t have to involve special medication or expensive remedies. Quite literally, small steps can make a significant difference. For example, early treatment could consist of walking briskly for 30 minutes, five days a week. Losing 7% of one’s body weight can be enough for someone with prediabetes to have their glucose levels return to a normal range. Following other prevention techniques recommended by the American Diabetes Association could help you stop diabetes in its tracks.

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All health and medical information is provided for educational purposes and is not meant to replace the medical advice or treatment of your healthcare professional.