Type 2 diabetes is one of the leading lifestyle disorders, especially affecting middle aged-people. But does it occur in one day? No – in most cases, people having diabetes go through a phase of prediabetes before that.
What is prediabetes and why is it so important for 45 plus people? How do you know you have prediabetes? Can you prolong it and prevent entering the stage of diabetes? Yes, we will try to find an answer to all these questions in our blogs exclusively on prediabetes care.

All you need to Know About Prediabetes

If you have been diagnosed with prediabetes, you must be wondering what it means. Know about prediabetes, its effects on your health and the ways to manage it for a healthy 45 plus. Prediabetes is different from diabetes – it is the phase in which, you have slightly higher than normal blood sugar levels but they are not raised enough to be categorized as diabetes. It can also be called borderline diabetes or as the name suggests – it is a period before diabetes.
Many people have prediabetes and are unaware of it till blood tests are done. However, whether or not you are aware of your condition, prediabetes can begin gradual changes in your body. This may be heading towards diabetes – which means more elevated blood sugar levels – high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes.
But the good news is that this can be prevented. If you do not wish to have diabetes, you can take the right action and prolong the prediabetes stage or even reverse it effectively.

Why prediabetes matters for healthy 45 plus?

Prediabetes is an early warning sign that you may be marching towards type 2 diabetes. Think of it, as an alarm that tells you that you need to pay attention to your health or else diabetes is on your way. Diabetes has its own health risks and complications. It is known that your risk of heart diseases, stroke, kidney problems, eye complications, and cataract increases with prolonged diabetes. Not only does it cause problems in wound healing, tissue repair, recovery from surgeries and illnesses, it can also increase the risk of infections and skin problems.
So, the only way to protect yourself from diabetes and its complications are to act when you in the prediabetes period. You can have prediabetes for years and not have clear symptoms. It is hence, necessary to know the risk factors of prediabetes and consult your doctor to know about routine evaluation.
Some of the common risk factors include
• Being overweight
• Aging or being 45 plus
• Being less active or leading a sedentary lifestyle
• Having a parent or a sibling with type 2 diabetes
• Having a history of gestational diabetes or giving birth to an overweight baby, in case of women
• People taking inadequate sleep or those having obstructive sleep apnoea
• Smoking too can increase the risk of prediabetes

What causes prediabetes?

While the exact cause of prediabetes is not known, some of the contributing factors may play an important role. Family history of diabetes and genetics may have a role to play, but your dietary and lifestyle choices too are very important. Generally, a lack of physical activity, being overweight, particularly the accumulation of fat around the abdomen can add to the risk.
The main cause of prediabetes in your metabolism and ability to digest sugars. Insulin is a hormone secreted by the pancreas that helps to digest sugars. Whenever you eat your food, your sugars are digested and enter into the bloodstream. The insulin, which is secreted allows proper utilization of the sugar by the cells, thus lowering the blood sugar levels back to normal. However, when insulin does not function properly, sugar does not reach the cells properly and instead gets accumulated in the blood. This is what happens in prediabetes. The pancreas does not function appropriately, thus affecting insulin secretion, which in turn, affects the metabolism of sugar. Hence, the more sugar you take, the harmful for you, as instead of reaching the cells and tissues, sugar remains in the bloodstream. This is shown as higher than normal blood sugar levels in the investigations, which hints towards prediabetes.
Excessive sugar in the bloodstream is dangerous as it circulates throughout the body tissues and organs, thus affecting their function. Also, if this continues the amount of sugar in the blood keeps on rising and you can end up having diabetes. However, if the process is halted at the prediabetes level, at early stages, you can prevent the condition from worsening or sometimes, even reverse the functioning and metabolism to some extent.

How to identify if you have prediabetes?

Although prediabetes does not have any obvious symptoms, some of the signs of prediabetes has been noted. Dark patches or darkened skin areas on the armpits, neck, elbows, knees, and knuckles may be a tell-tale sign of prediabetes. Other symptoms include increased thirst, frequent urination, increased appetite, excessive fatigue, and blurring of vision.
The confirmation of prediabetes can be made only with blood tests. There are a series of blood tests that are advised for routine screening or when specific risk is assessed. We will look at the tests for prediabetes and how to interpret the results in our next blog.

Dr Snehal Singh