What is Prediabetes?
Prediabetes, as the name suggests, is the clinical condition in which blood sugar is consistently high, but no other symptom of diabetes is seen.
As is evident, it occurs before people develop type 2 diabetes mellitus. More than 1 crore cases are found in India per year. Undiagnosed cases of people with prediabetes add on to the disease incidence even more.
Diabetes mellitus is one of the most common chronic condition seen in individuals the world over. It is a group of metabolic disorders (type 1 and type 2) in which the blood glucose levels remain persistently high, and signs and symptoms arise as a result of high blood sugar levels and reduced insulin sensitivity. Diabetes mellitus significantly adds to the chronic disease burden of the world and affects the quality of life for years together.
In recent years diabetes is being referred to more as a syndrome than a disease. Diabetes is majorly linked to lifestyle factors, and maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle improves the quality of life to a large extent. Diet and exercise remain the major management strategies for diabetes.
When it comes to the condition of prediabetes, treating it is especially important because if left untreated, it poses an increased risk to progress to full-blown diabetes mellitus.
Symptoms of Prediabetes
The only feature of this clinical condition is persistently high blood glucose levels. It is therefore detected only if a person undergoes screening and gets their blood sugar levels investigated.
Fatigue and unexplained weight loss are the notable ones. A weight loss that is undeliberate and unexplained should always arouse suspicion of a chronic disease.
Disrupted sleep cycle and low energy are also frequently associated with fatigue and weight loss. Hyperpigmentation (darkening) of skin especially in the folds may also be due to high glucose levels.
Women who have polycystic ovarian syndrome should especially be conscious of their blood glucose levels and should get the same tested regularly, as diabetes is frequently diagnosed in women with this hormonal syndrome.
Any individual who has a positive family history for diabetes mellitus or other metabolic disorders should remain vigilant as regards their blood sugar levels.
Like most chronic diseases, the exact cause of prediabetes remains unknown. One can only assess the risk factors that are seen to be involved with the development of diabetes and prediabetes in an individual. Most of these act in combination to produce prediabetes over a period of time. Some of these are as follows:
- A positive family history has been proven to be a major risk factor for developing prediabetes.
- Genetic composition may also play a role in affecting the blood sugar levels.
- A sedentary lifestyle with minimum physical activity affects the body metabolism in general, and the glucose metabolism in particular. People who do not exercise at all are at an increased risk of developing chronic metabolic diseases.
- Obesity and overweight are also important factors. People with uncontrolled blood sugar levels are often found to be overweight.
- Dietary habits play a major role in the development of prediabetes. Processed meats, dietary sugars and sweetened beverages, oily and fatty meals, alcohol and beer can all affect a person’s metabolism and produce prediabetes and diabetes eventually.
- Stress: Chronic unmanaged stress that takes a toll on an individual’s mental health affects the physical health as well. People unable to healthily process their stress levels often end up with chronic illnesses like diabetes.
Is Prediabetes Reversible?
Prediabetes is reversible if action is taken as soon as the condition is discovered. A healthy diet and good lifestyle can help keep diabetic symptoms at bay for long.
Aside from lifestyle management, herbal medicines and supplements show great promise in regulating glucose metabolism. In India, a large number of people rely on herbal medicine for diabetic care. One can begin herbal remedies for prediabetes also as the health benefits are proven. Herbal medicines have shown beneficial action in sustaining improved blood sugar levels without any major side effects.
It must be remembered that if well-controlled, diabetes is not a disability. A healthy lifestyle, nutritious diet, and due attention to your doctor’s medical advice can help you to manage this disorder to the best effect.