First Warning Sign:
Abnormal Blood Sugar
But symptoms often go unnoticed.
We know that diabetes is a major problem in the U.S., but prediabetes is even more of an issue — because most people don’t know they have it. Symptoms most often go unnoticed, but the first sign is that you no longer have normal blood sugar levels. Please…. let that be a wake-up call, because unless you take action and make serious lifestyle changes you will develop full blown diabetes.
Approximately 37% of U.S. adults older than 20 years and 51% of those older than 65 have prediabetes symptoms. When applied to the entire population, these estimates suggest that there are over 90 million adults with prediabetes in the U.S. alone. Without intervention, people with prediabetes are almost certain to become type 2 diabetics, while long-term damage to the heart and circulatory system associated with diabetes has already started.
One way to diagnose prediabetes is through the A1C test which measures your average blood glucose for the past two to three months. Diabetes is diagnosed at an A1C of greater than 6.5 percent; for prediabetes, the A1C is between 5.7 percent and 6.4 percent. Another way to check your blood glucose levels is through a fasting plasma glucose test—after not eating or drinking for at least 8 hours. Diabetes is diagnosed at fasting blood glucose levels of greater than 125 milligrams per deciliter; while prediabetes is having fasting glucose between 100 to 125 milligrams per deciliter.
A prediabetes individual is not only in danger of developing full blown diabetes, but is also at a higher risk of chronic kidney and heart disease. When people understand that they’re prediabetic, they can make lifestyle changes to reduce their risk of developing diabetes, which is why noticing prediabetes symptoms is vital.
People with prediabetes don’t process glucose properly, which causes sugar to build up in the bloodstream instead of fueling the cells that make up muscles and other tissues. Most of the glucose in your body comes from the foods you eat, especially sugary foods and simple carbohydrates. During digestion, the sugar from these foods enters your bloodstream. Then with the help of insulin, sugar enters the body’s cells, where it’s utilized as a source of energy.
The hormone insulin is responsible for lowering the amount of sugar in your bloodstream. As your blood sugar level drops, so does the secretion of insulin from your pancreas.
For people with pre-diabetes, this process does not work properly. Sugar is not used to fuel your cells, but instead builds up in your bloodstream because the pancreas doesn’t make enough insulin or your cells become resistant to insulin. (1) (Click here to learn what to eat for high blood sugar.)
There are often no symptoms or signs, and the condition can go unnoticed for many years. However, you may experience some diabetes symptoms:
- Feeling thirsty all the time,
- Frequent urination,
- Feeling tired and fatigued,
- Having blurred vision,
- Ancothosis nigricans—a skin condition that causes areas of the skin to darken and thicken. Evidence shows that acanthosis nigricans is often associated with hyperinsulinemia and may indicate an increased risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus, (2) and
- Some people with pre-diabetes may also experience reactive hypoglycemia or low blood sugar two to three hours after a meal. More about that later.
Several studies have also shown an association of increased risk of chronic kidney disease with pre-diabetes. Research shows that many people with pre-diabetes or diabetes were found to have state 3 or 4 chronic kidney disease. Chronic kidney disease screening among people with pre-diabetes and aggressive management of pre-diabetes in those with chronic kidney disease is highly recommended. (3)
Prediabetes Risk Factors
- Have a family history of Type 2 diabetes,
- A woman with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS),
- Are African-American, Native American, Asian, Hispanic, or Pacific Islander,
- Are overweight or obese, especially around the middle (belly fat),
- Have high triglycerides, low HDL, and high LDL, or total cholesterol over 300,
- Don’t exercise
- Are 45 years or older, and
- Eat a high carbohydrate diet.
Low Blood Sugar
If you experience hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, you’re dealing with that culprit glucose again—only this time the levels are too low, around 60 to 70 mg/dl.
For prediabetics, most cases of hypoglycemia are mild and not considered medical emergencies. Effects can range from feelings of unease, sweating, trembling, and increased appetite in mild cases. Hypoglycemia may also be caused by insufficient intake of food, or too much exercise or alcohol. Usually, the condition is manageable. Mild cases are self-treated by eating or drinking something high in sugar. And mild cases do not necessarily cause symptoms in all patients.
Hypoglycemia can occur:
- If you don’t eat for long periods of time, or
- If you exercise too strenuously, or
- If you eat too many carbs/sugars, or
Your body does everything possible to maintain a normal, steady flow of glucose (fuel for the body), but when there isn’t enough, your brain senses that and immediately sends messages into your body to make you uncomfortable, and then if you are not paying attention–miserable.
Symptoms of hypoglycemia are similar to those of a panic attack:
- Trouble thinking and speaking, and
- Possibly intense hunger.
This can also be an early warning sign for prediabetics—that they might be headed for diabetes. Even if someone doesn’t progress to diabetes, reactive hypoglycemia can be a sign of insulin resistance, where the pancreas is secreting excessive insulin, driving blood sugar too low. Insulin resistance, with or without diabetes, can also be an advanced warning for heart disease.
Treatment for Hypoglycemia
If you feel your blood sugar dropping too quickly, consume 15 to 20 grams of simple carbohydrates. Recheck your glucose level after 15 minutes. If it’s still low, eat another 15 to 20 g of simple carbs. Good sources of carbohydrate to treat hypoglycemia include:
- Glucose tablets
- Glucose gel
- Fruit juices
- Sugar, honey, or corn syrup
- Hard candies, jelly beans, or gumdrops
The goal of treatment for hypoglycemia is to get your blood sugar level back up to the normal range. If hypoglycemia isn’t promptly treated, it may result in life-threatening complications such as seizures or coma, or even death.
Natural Treatments for Prediabetes Symptoms
- Lose Excess Pounds: research shows that lifestyle interventions that focus on weight loss, such as increasing physical activity and making dietary changes, can significantly reduce the risk of developing diabetes.
- Follow a Diabetic Diet Plan: choose foods that help balance blood sugar levels. Meals that are high in protein, fiber and healthy fats.
Exercise: if you’re inactive, you’re increasing your chances of developing prediabetes. Exercise helps you to stay in control of your weight and ensures that your body uses up glucose as energy, thereby making your cells more sensitive to insulin.
- Supplement with Magnesium: magnesium deficiency is one of the leading nutrient deficiencies in adults, with an estimated 80 percent being deficient in this vital mineral. A magnesium deficiency can lead to other nutrient deficiencies, trouble sleeping and hypertension, all risk factors for developing pre-diabetes symptoms.
- Supplement with CoQ10: a 2014 study published in the Journal of Diabetes and Metabolic Disorders found that fasting plasma glucose and hemoglobin A1C levels were significantly lower in the group that took CoQ10 supplements. (4)
To learn more about Diabetes click here.