If you have prediabetes, you’re far from alone: more than 85 million Americans have been diagnosed. It’s easy to define — it simply means your blood sugar (glucose) levels are higher than normal — but not so easy to notice because there often aren’t any symptoms. Left untreated, many people develop full diabetes, a chronic condition that can lead to heart disease and other serious complications.
The good news? Through early testing and even simple lifestyle changes, you can prevent or delay prediabetes from progressing. And the experts at Central Maine Healthcare are ready to help you every step of the way.
Prediabetes occurs when you have too much glucose in your bloodstream, but your levels aren’t high yet enough to qualify as diabetes. With high glucose, your body isn’t producing enough insulin to process the sugar you’re taking in, so instead of carrying it to your muscles and other tissues for fuel, the sugar is accumulating in your blood.
Should I Get Tested?
Your biggest clues to prediabetes are your own general health and personal risk. If any of these risk factors apply to you, it’s a good idea to be tested:
- Family history: If your parents, siblings or other relatives have been diagnosed with diabetes or prediabetes, you’re at risk for developing it yourself.
- Excess weight: Being overweight is a major risk factor for prediabetes, especially if you have fatty tissue around your waist and lower abdomen.
- Dietary choices: Eating red meat and processed meat, and drinking sugar-sweetened beverages, is associated with a higher risk of prediabetes.
- Lack of exercise: The less active you are, the greater your risk of prediabetes. Physical activity helps you control your weight, uses up glucose as energy and makes your cells more sensitive to insulin.
- Age: There can be a cumulative effect to prediabetes, with the risk increasing after age 45. The longer you carry extra weight and other risk factors, the greater your chances of having the disorder.
- Sleep: If you don’t get enough sleep, or your sleep habits are unusual due to work shifts, you may be at higher risk. Do you snore? If so, you might have obstructive sleep apnea, a condition that prevents your organs from getting enough oxygen while you sleep and puts you at even higher risk for prediabetes (among other conditions). The sleep medicine specialists at Central Maine Healthcare offer sleep studies.
- Cholesterol-related diagnoses:If you have high blood pressure, low HDL (“good”) cholesterol, or high triglycerides (“blood fat”), you also should be tested for prediabetes.
Diagnosing & Treating Prediabetes
If you find that you’re at a risk for prediabetes, our endocrinologists can rule out or confirm a diagnosis. We offer a variety of blood tests and glucose screenings at locations close to home.
The best treatment for prediabetes is healthy living. Central Maine’s certified diabetes educators and registered dietitians provide hands-on guidance, with strategies to help you be more active, maintain a healthy weight, eat right and more.