Total prevalence of diabetes
Total: 25.8 million children and adults in the United States—8.3% of the population—have diabetes.
Diagnosed: 18.8 million people
Undiagnosed: 7.0 million people
Prediabetes: 79 million people
Check the stats. Yes, many people could have prediabetes. If left unchecked, patients with prediabetes are on the fast track to insulin dependence Type 2 within 5 years. 79 million people know they are headed for trouble. How many more are unaware? And how many ARE aware, but decide to live it up with their food and activity choices until they are forced to change them?
It’s not like a huge clown shows up in your front yard screaming with a bullhorn “get checked, stupid! That excessive thirst and extra 20 lbs are signs of something”.
So, how would you know if your pancreas is not happy? Check the risk factors and see if you have any or many of these:
- You’re overweight, with a body mass index above 25.
- You’re inactive.
- You’re age 45 or older.
- You have a family history of type 2 diabetes.
- You’re African-American, Hispanic, American Indian, Asian-American or a Pacific Islander.
- You developed gestational diabetes when you were pregnant or gave birth to a baby who weighed more than 9 pounds (4.1 kilograms).
- You have polycystic ovary syndrome.
- You have high blood pressure.
- Your high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol is below 35 mg/dL (0.9 mmol/L) or your triglyceride level is above 250 mg/dL (2.83 mmol/L).
- You regularly sleep 5.5 hours or fewer a night
And as I discussed before, most of these did not apply to me. I was a healthy weight, very active, Caucasian, age 30, no kids, no PCOS, very low Bp, and normal cholesterol. But my family history had other ideas.
So if that list is not always reliable, then what should you do?
See your doctor. It could save your life and limbs.
In other words, when you go for your yearly physical, try to schedule it first thing in the morning and let the nurse know that you haven’t eaten anything and you want to include a fasting glucose test as part of your regular blood screening. That alone will keep you updated and that is all you have to do!
Over the course of 3 years, my fasting glucose test increased, but was still within the parameters so I never paid attention to it. Make sure you get a copy of the results, not just the general “everything is fine” letter from your doctor’s assistant. Know the numbers and what they mean.
Fasting glucose less than 100mg/dl is NORMAL
Fasting glucose 100-125 mg/dl is PREDIABETES. Demand an A1c test. This does not have to be fasting. It is a 3 month average of your glucose levels.
Fasting glucose 126 and higher is DIABETES. Your doctor will call you in and give you the news, lots of information, and an appointment with a nutritionist. When the shock wears off, start researching and put down the sugar and white flour immediately. Give yourself 4 days to get it out of your system. 4 days is all it takes, in most cases.
So if you get one of those middle of the road numbers that mean you’re on the track to full blown diabetes within 5 years, what is the course of treatment?
In MY OPINION, the newly released suggestion to start taking Metformin (oral insulin) is absolutely ridiculous. I have a big problem with the ADA and the backing of drug companies to push the meds so soon. That’s another story for another day. Most doctors will give you lifestyle changes that can actually reverse the track and prolong diabetes for many years. Decades. But they are lifestyle CHANGES, not just for a few weeks and then back to pastries for breakfast and dessert at every meal with snacks of donuts covered in caramel….mmmm….donuts…anyway. Put them down. Treats occasionally, sure.
So, short version of Prediabetes:
1. Get fasting glucose test at the next checkup. Know the number. Know what they mean. Get one the next year. Compare the difference, if any.
2. Know the risk factors. But also know they are NOT set in stone. Many people were just like me and shocked out of their skin.
3. To keep pancreas happy, watch the sugar and simple carbs and keep active. Remember, too much sugar and simple carbs can lead to insulin resistance—-the cells are RESISTANT to insulin and the insulin can’t lower the sugar in the blood.
It’s not the end of the world. But just don’t go to google images and search for “diabetes”. You’ll see a whole lot of real pictures of what happens to people if they are diagnosed too late. If you like your organs, feet, and eyes healthy, know your glucose numbers.