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Testing for Prediabetes: Here Are the Things You Need to Know

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This article is Medically Approved by Dr. Edward Salko

If diabetes mellitus or type 2 diabetes runs in your family, you might as well be aware of a condition called prediabetes.

As the name suggests, prediabetes precedes diabetes. It is a phase in which the symptoms do not strictly conform to type 2 diabetes, but they strongly indicate a high likelihood for the disease to develop soon.

Diabetes is a chronic condition affecting 34.2 million Americans. That’s about 10.5% of the population in the US. On the other hand, prediabetes is prevalent in about 88 million people aged 18 and above.

Once you are diagnosed with prediabetes, the condition generally calls for a quick and complete lifestyle change gearing towards better wellness. Otherwise, it will escalate to diabetes and even other diseases, bringing more complications to your health.

Naturally, a critical step in managing and treating prediabetes is diagnosis. Testing for prediabetes is crucial to learn what actions you will need to deal with the condition.

If you are at risk of prediabetes or diabetes, hang on tight as we explore how you can easily get tested. Let’s find out.

What Is Prediabetes?

Prediabetes is a condition wherein your blood sugar level is high, but it is not high enough to be diagnosed as type 2 diabetes.

It is also called borderline diabetes since it’s already under the radar but not just there yet.

However, people tend to perceive prediabetes as a mild condition that does not require medical attention as much as diabetes does.

In reality, it is indeed a serious condition that not only puts you at the risk of developing diabetes quickly but also for other conditions. Heart disease and stroke can also be strongly linked with prediabetes.

Causes of Prediabetes

The exact cause of prediabetes is still being researched. But what is clear is that family history and lifestyle remain the most influential factors in its development.

The increase in blood sugar or serum glucose levels can be directly associated with insulin’s improper functioning or secretion, a critical hormone produced by the pancreas.

Whenever you eat or drink, insulin circulates in the bloodstream to allow sugars or carbohydrates to enter the cell. These sugars are processed in smaller units called glucose. 

As glucose is transported in the cells, the amount of sugars in the bloodstream is reduced.

If you eat foods that are high in sugar, the pancreas will have to produce more insulin. This level of production goes beyond its average capacity and can cause critical damage. 

One example of its potential consequence is insulin resistance, wherein the cells fail to respond properly to insulin. As a result, glucose can’t be transported or used entirely.

Risk Factors

While the precise reason behind the development of prediabetes is still unknown, risk factors have long been identified. Evidently, the same factors are associated with diabetes.

Family history: If you have a parent, sibling, or close relative with diabetes mellitus, you have a higher chance of developing the condition.

Diet: Eating processed foods high in sugars or drinking beverages that are artificially sweetened increases your risk for prediabetes and diabetes, for that matter. On the contrary, a diet composed of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains lowers the risk of the said conditions.

Age: Prediabetes can develop anytime in your lifetime. However, the risk increases once you reach the age of 45.

Weight: People who are overweight tend to accumulate more fats around the abdomen. The more fatty tissues there are, the more complex the insulin can be utilized by your cells.

Inactivity: If you lack proper exercise, you miss the chance of burning your fats and utilizing more sugars. As a result, your weight increases along with your risk for prediabetes.

Smoking: Studies have shown that nicotine plays a role in inducing insulin resistance. Hence, if you are a frequent smoker, you are at risk of developing prediabetes.

Gestational diabetes: Women who had diabetes while pregnant (gestational diabetes) have a higher chance of having prediabetes.

Other medical conditions: Obstructive sleep apnea and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) are two conditions that can increase your risk for insulin resistance.

Warning Signs of Prediabetes

Some of the common warning signs of prediabetes include the following:

  • Skin darkening on the neck, elbows, armpits, knuckles, and knees
  • Frequent urination
  • Fatigued
  • Blurred vision
  • Increased thirst and hunger
  • Unexplained weight loss

However, these symptoms often go unnoticed or develop gradually. It takes years for some people to make the right observation. As a result, prediabetes is not diagnosed sooner than it should be.

Is Prediabetes reversible?

According to the CDC, prediabetes is reversible with the proper lifestyle change. This means that you can delay or prevent the condition from becoming full-blown diabetes.

According to the American Diabetes Association, healthy living channeled by a nutritious and clean diet along with regular exercise and having the right perspective effectively reverse prediabetes.

Add regular blood glucose monitoring through a standard blood glucose test; then, you may never experience diabetes altogether.

Following these recommended actions can make prediabetes go away. However, it requires consistency. Hence, you will have to muster all the motivations and self-will you have.  

Potential Complications of Prediabetes

Diabetes is clearly the most serious complication that prediabetes can turn into. It is pretty hard not to get a bit scared if you have diabetes as it could lead to other conditions such as the following:

  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • High blood pressure
  • Kidney disease
  • Loss of vision

Additionally, diabetes is fatal when not managed correctly. Also, there’s the likelihood of amputations which is nerve-wracking by itself.

But aside from diabetes, other conditions are also shown to have a link to prediabetes. One example is erectile dysfunction (ED).

According to a study, there is a prevalence of unrecognized or undiagnosed prediabetes among men with ED.

What Are the Blood Tests to Check for Prediabetes?

The only way to diagnose prediabetes is through the right laboratory tests. Once you see your doctor for a checkup, you may be ordered to take either of these two blood tests.

Hemoglobin A1C Blood Test

This test reveals your average blood sugar levels within the last three months. It examines the sugar attached to the oxygen-carrying protein in the blood called hemoglobin. When sugar levels in the blood are high, the percentage of hemoglobin with attached sugars is also high.

Glucose, Plasma Blood Test

With this test, you are required to fast for at least eight hours, typically done overnight, before a sample of your blood is drawn. 

Fasting is required to guarantee the accuracy of the test results. Your doctor will look into your average blood sugar levels without being influenced by your recent meal.

How to Get Tested for Prediabetes?

You can go to a medical laboratory nearby to take the blood tests for prediabetes. Nonetheless, if you choose to order the tests online, you can do so with Personalabs.

With a few clicks, Personalabs can arrange your test through its closest partner laboratory. You can even check your results online through your account.Also, if you want to take both the Hemoglobin A1C test and the Glucose Plasma Blood Test, simply order the Diabetic Profile Blood Test. It saves you from the hassle of ordering them separately.

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