Just as pre-cancer may be detected and removed before turning into cancer, discovery of diabetes in its earliest stages can help prevent further development of the condition.
Blood sugar levels that are higher than normal, but not high enough to be called diabetes, are classified as prediabetes. Prediabetes is also called impaired glucose tolerance or impaired fasting glucose. Evidence indicates that people with prediabetes can take steps to return their blood sugar levels to a normal range. This can prevent or delay complications that are linked to diabetes.
Other long-term health problems can result if you do not have good control over your blood sugar levels. Complications related to type 2 diabetes include but are not limited to:
Being overweight is a risk factor for prediabetes and diabetes. Obesity and type 2 diabetes make your body cells less sensitive to the effects of insulin, a hormone that regulates blood sugar levels. This allows blood sugar levels to rise over time and can result in long-term damage to your body.
This is an especially important risk factor for Americans since many are overweight. African Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans, Asian Americans, and Pacific Islanders may be at an even higher risk.
Prediabetes and diabetes can be diagnosed with a simple blood test. During a routine office visit, your doctor can order tests, such as:
The American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends that the following people get screened for diabetes:
If your test indicates prediabetes, you should have it repeated for accuracy. If you do have prediabetes, you will need to be retested every year.
Fortunately, we know that people with prediabetes can delay or prevent the onset of diabetes with lifestyle changes. Experts recommend that people with prediabetes reduce their weight by 5-7% and engage in modest physical activity for at least 150 minutes each week. In addition to exercising, you doctor will also recommend that you make changes to your diet. This may include eating more fruits and vegetables and whole grain foods. You should also limit your intake of sugar-sweetened drinks.
If you already drink alcohol, limit your drinking to moderate to amounts of alcohol. This is 2 drinks per day for men, 1 drink per day for women. Some studies have shown a benefit for people who drink moderately.
In some cases, medications commonly used to treat diabetes may be prescribed to prevent people from developing diabetes.
American Diabetes Association
National Diabetes Education Program
Public Health Agency of Canada
Canadian Diabetes Association
All about prediabetes. American Diabetes Association website. Available at: http://professional.diabetes.org/admin/UserFiles/file/Reducing%20Cardiometabolic%20Risk_%20Patient%20Education%20Toolkit/English/ADA%20CMR%20Toolkit_3Pre.pdf. Accessed September 15, 2014.
Complications. American Diabetes Association website. Available at: http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/complications/. Accessed September 14, 2014.
Diabetes mellitus type 2 in adults. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated August 25, 2014. Accessed September 15, 2014.
Diabetes mellitus type 2 in children and adolescents. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated May 30, 2014. Accessed September 15, 2014.
Diabetes mellitus type 2 prevention. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated July 31, 2012. Accessed August 20, 2012.
Diagnosing diabetes and learning about prediabetes. American Diabetes Association website. Available at: http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/diagnosis. Updated March 27, 2014. Accessed September 15, 2014.
Diagnosis of diabetes and prediabetes. National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse website. Available at: http://diabetes.niddk.nih.gov/dm/pubs/diagnosis/. Updated September 10, 2014. Accessed September 15, 2014.
Insulin resistance and prediabetes. National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse website. Available at: http://diabetes.niddk.nih.gov/dm/pubs/insulinresistance/#diagnosed. Accessed September 15, 2014.
Making healthy food choices. American Diabetes Association website. Available at: http://www.diabetes.org/food-and-fitness/food/what-can-i-eat/making-healthy-food-choices/. Accessed September 15, 2014.
Prediabetes: am I at risk? Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/DIABETES/prevention/prediabetes.htm. Updated May 15, 2014. Accessed September 15, 2014.
Risk factors for diabetes mellitus type 2. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated August 19, 2014. Accessed September 15, 2014.
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2/15/2010 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: American Diabetes Association. Standards of medical care in diabetes—2010. Diabetes Care. 2010;33(suppl 1:S11-61).
2/15/2010 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: American Diabetes Association. Diagnosis and classification of diabetes mellitus. Diabetes Care. 2010;33(suppl 1:S62-69).
4/22/2011 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Phung OJ, Sood NA, Sill BE, Coleman CI. Oral anti-diabetic drugs for the prevention of Type 2 diabetes. Diabet Med. 2011 Mar 23.
12/15/2014 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Rawlings AM, Sharrett AR, et al. Diabetes in midlife and cognitive change over 20 years: A cohort study. Ann Intern Med. 2014;161(11):785-793.
Last reviewed September 2014 by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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