How to Fight Prediabetes and Win
Editor’s note: Diabetes is one of the most significant health problems today; according the American Diabetes Association, 9.3 percent of the population has this serious illness, and the rate among people 65 and older is 25.9 percent.
But if you are diagnosed with prediabetes, you can work to postpone the onset of diabetes and, in some cases, can even reverse the process of prediabetes, according to the National Institutes of Health’s SeniorHealth division.Here, according to the SeniorHealth experts, is what you can do to find out whether you have prediabetes, and how you can fight it:
Prediabetes means that the amount of glucose, or sugar, in your blood is higher than normal, but not high enough to be designated as diabetic. If you have prediabetes, also known as impaired fasting glucose (IFG) or impaired glucose tolerance (IGT), you are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.
How Do I Know If I Have Prediabetes?
Unfortunately, most people with the condition don’t have any symptoms. To find out, your doctor should give you a blood test.
Who Should Be Tested for Prediabetes?
If you’re 45 years or older, and are overweight, you are a good candidate for a prediabetes test. Inactivity is also a factor in prediabetes. If your body mass index (BMI) is 25 or higher, you’re overweight. If you’re not sure, the SeniorHealth experts say, ask your doctor about your weight.
The SeniorHealth experts also say that you should consider a prediabetes test even if you’re under 45 but are overweight and arephysically inactive; have a parent or sibling with diabetes; have high levels of cholesterol and triiglycerides; or have high blood pressure (hypertension).
You should also consider a test if you are under 45 but had gestational diabetes, which develops during pregnancy, or gave birth to a baby that weight more than nine pounds.
Other factors in deciding to take a prediabetes test if you are under 45 including race and ethnicity: African American, Alaska Native, American Indian, Asian American, Hispanic/Latino, and Pacific Islander Americans are at higher risk than other groups.
Additional signs that a test may be needed include whether you have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS); have a dark, velvety rash around your neck or armpits; or have blood vessel problems affecting your heart, brain, or legs
According to the SeniorHealth experts, if your test result is normal, you should get another test in three years. But if you have prediabetes, ask your doctor if you need a test in one year.
What Can I Do about Prediabetes?
Losing at least 5 to 10 percent of your current weight – for example, 10 to 20 pounds if you weigh 200 pounds – can reverse prediabetes, or even help prevent or delay diabetes itself, the SeniorHealth experts say. Physical activity also helps your body use the hormone insulin properly. Your body needs insulin to use glucose for energy.
There are also medications that can help control your glucose levels. Ask your doctor if they are right for you.
The National Diabetes Education Program’s Small Steps. Big Rewards. Prevent Type 2 Diabetes campaign has more information about preventing diabetes at www.ndep.nih.gov. Another helpful site is the National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse: http://diabetes.niddk.nih.gov/index.aspx. For more information about additional senior-health issues, visit nihseniorhealth.gov.