If you go to your doctor for your annual physical and find that your blood glucose levels are consistently running a little higher than usual, you are probably suffering from pre-diabetes.
The “normal” range of blood glucose is from 80-120 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl) before meals, and about 150-160 mg/dl 2 hours after a meal. If you are prediabetic, your pancreas is just beginning to slow production of insulin, and you may not notice any other symptoms. Unfortunately, what you don’t know can hurt you, because as prediabetes progresses to diabetes, the damage to your heart, circulatory system, kidneys and liver has already begun.
In fact, you have about a decade before unchecked diabetes leads to vision loss, persistent fatigue, diabetic neuropathy, and regular injections of insulin.
All are effects of long-term diabetes, and only some are reversible. For example, diabetes-induced peripheral neuropathy – that painful burning and tingling in hands and feet – may slow its progression once you, the diabetic, get your blood sugars under control. But nothing can reverse the nerve damage already done, and you may experience foot pain for the rest of your life, even if you become the model diabetic – glucometer in one hand, insulin pen in the other.
Two more signs of prediabetes (and diabetes) – increased thirst and frequent urination – hint at even more future misery as you spend your nights running to the bathroom instead of getting the rest you need. As if being diabetic didn’t make you tired enough!
Another unfortunate symptom, persistent hunger – the sort that can’t be satisfied by any amount or kind of food – will put you on a physical and emotional treadmill that leads right to the ER.
You can avoid being prediabetic and all the future discomfort that diagnosis implies, by changing your lifestyle now. If you are the classic “apple” shape, with a body mass index above 25, get up and get moving. Get on a strict, diabetic meal plan. Get the right medicine.
Get a life.