Susan Crandell

These days, most people know that a diabetes diagnosis is serious, with all kinds of potentially deadly complications. Yet if they learn they have prediabetes -- when blood sugar levels are too high, but not quite high enough to be diabetic -- they often think, “Well, I’ll do something about that … eventually.”

That’s a big mistake, experts say.

Of the 57 million Americans who suffer from prediabetes (blood glucose level between 100 and 125 mg/dL), many will go on to develop diabetes within 10 years. But prediabetes also poses significant health risks right now, almost doubling your risk of cardiovascular disease, reports the American Diabetes Association. What’s more, as you inch toward a true diabetes diagnosis, the odds of getting other health issues, from vision problems to dental disasters, increase. “Diabetics are up to 700-percent more likely to have gum disease,” says Dr. Charles W. Martin, a dentist and the author of Are Your Teeth Killing You?

Are You at Risk?

You’re considered at higher risk for prediabetes if you’re over 45, overweight or obese, have a family history of Type 2 diabetes, or high blood pressure or cholesterol. Symptoms may include a frequent desire to urinate, blurred vision or a feeling of fatigue. But they may come on so gradually that you may not even notice. Often, there are no symptoms at all.

Talk to your doctor about getting tested. A prediabetes diagnosis is an early warning sign, and many people can prevent the development of diabetes, and even reverse the condition entirely.

Prevent Diabetes

Whether you have been diagnosed with prediabetes or not, there are plenty of things you can do to maintain healthy blood sugar levels and prevent diabetes in the future. The American College of Endocrinology suggests taking the following steps:

Eat well and exercise.

Eat a diet that’s high in fiber, whole grains, veggies and fruit, and get at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity five times a week. A recent National Institutes of Health study showed that a regular fitness program (30 minutes a day) and a 5-percent reduction in weight were more effective in warding off diabetes than drugs.

Defy obesity.

If you’re overweight, drop some pounds. Losing just 5 to 7 percent of your body weight can be significant, according to government researchers.

Seek the right treatment.

If you already suffer cardiovascular disease, fatty liver disease or polycystic ovary syndrome, you may need treatment with diabetes drugs.

Mind your oral care.

Floss twice a day and brush a full two minutes, says Martin. Also, see your dentist regularly and get your teeth cleaned at least twice a year to remove plaque that can cause gum disease and tooth decay. “We know that improving your oral health helps control diabetes,” adds Martin.

Susan Crandell writes about health for such magazines as Prevention and Ladies’ Home Journal. She is the founding editor of More, a magazine for women in their 40s and 50s and the author of Thinking About Tomorrow:  Reinventing Yourself at Midlife.


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Health - The Dangers of Prediabetes