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Do you have prediabetes?

Do you have prediabetes?
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If you are a borderline diabetic, it means you have prediabetes. Your blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not enough to be diagnosed with full-blown type 2 diabetes. Maybe you’ve noticed that you’re losing weight or more tired than normal. Or perhaps you’re thirsty or have vision issues. Here’s a look at some of the more common signs that you could be a borderline diabetic.

You’re really thirsty and are peeing a lot

You’re really thirsty and are peeing a lot
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“Prediabetes is caused when the body is unable to efficiently process blood sugars,” says endocrinologist Dr Jason Ng. “This happens over time as the body builds up resistance to insulin, the hormone that helps the body control blood sugars.” As you become insulin resistant, the body has to produce more insulin to keep blood sugars at a good level. Eventually it can’t keep up, so blood sugars rise. Prediabetes may take you by surprise, as there often aren’t symptoms – though there are a few subtle cues you can look out for. “A patient may feel slightly more thirsty and have to urinate more over time as well as the sugars increase in their body,” Dr Ng says.

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You’re exhausted

You’re exhausted
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Borderline diabetes could be one of the medical reasons you’re tired all the time. If you’re one of the 2 million Australians who have prediabetes, according to Diabetes Australia you may notice you’re not feeling up to your normal activity level. “Patients may feel more tired or sluggish,” Dr Ng says. Blood sugar fluctuations can cause fatigue; plus, other factors that often appear with blood sugar problems could be the culprit, such as depression or obesity, according to a study published in 2012 in Diabetes Educator.

Physical activity is recommended by the American Diabetes Association to help with prediabetes symptoms, but ironically people with the condition may be too tired to exercise. If that’s the case, see your doctor. “Most of prediabetes is diagnosed by lab work at a doctor’s office,” Dr Ng says. With prediabetes, “fasting sugar is between 100 to 125 mg/dl or a random blood sugar between 140 to 200 mg/dl.”

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You’re losing weight

You’re losing weight
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Among the silent diabetes signs you might be missing is weight loss. Although we associate blood sugar problems with being overweight, once you start becoming borderline diabetic you may actually drop kilos. If you’re going to the bathroom more frequently, you’re excreting extra sugar and losing more kilojoules. Diabetes may also keep sugar in your food from reaching your cells. This might leave you “feeling hungry all the time,” says Dr Deena Adimoolam, assistant professor of medicine, endocrinology, diabetes and bone disease. So if you’re eating more than usual and still losing weight, talk to your doctor.

A healthy diet can also help prevent headaches.

You have blurred vision

You have blurred vision
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One of the clear signs you have high blood sugar is actually not seeing clearly. Dr Adimoolam says that blurred vision is a sign that you’re borderline prediabetic. Why? Diabetic eye disease occurs when high blood sugar causes damage to the blood vessels in the eye, which can leak and swell, leading to vision changes. According to the National Eye Institute, one type of eye damage, diabetic retinopathy, is the leading cause of vision loss among people with diabetes and the leading cause of blindness among adults. A study by The Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) found that 8 per cent of prediabetic participants had diabetic retinopathy. It can be addressed if caught early, so bring up blurry vision to your doctor as soon as you notice it.

Here are 36 everyday habits that can save your eyesight.

You have dark areas on your skin

You have dark areas on your skin
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One body changes that could signal a bigger problem that you are borderline prediabetic are dark patches on your skin called acanthosis nigricans (AN). The condition usually appears in elbows, armpits, knees, or on the neck, has a velvety texture, and likely occurs because excess insulin causes a rapid growth of cells. It’s also more common in people with obesity – another risk factor for prediabetes. But a study published in the Annals of Family Medicine showed that although patients with AN tend to have multiple risk factors for diabetes, AN itself may also be an independent risk factor for the disease. Because of this, AN’s presence may help doctors detect prediabetes sooner.

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You have PCOS

You have PCOS
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Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a disorder where a woman’s hormones are unbalanced. Studies like one published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism in 2017, have shown that PCOS is a risk factor for diabetes.

It’s not known exactly how they are linked, but researchers are looking into the connection between PCOS and insulin. High levels of insulin may contribute to increased production of male hormones called androgens, which is a symptom of PCOS. PCOS is also associated with being overweight, as is prediabetes – but studies have shown that even average-weight women with PCOS are at increased risk of high blood sugar. Also, women with PCOS may be more likely to have gestational diabetes (diabetes while pregnant; more on that later), which also can lead to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. If you are diagnosed with PCOS, your reproductive endocrinologist may test your glucose level to make sure you’re not borderline prediabetic.

You don’t get good sleep

You don’t get good sleep
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“When you don’t get enough sleep, less insulin is released in the body,” says Dr Richard Shane, behavioural sleep therapist. “Sleep deprivation can cause insulin-producing cells to fail to use the insulin efficiently or to stop functioning. Your body also secretes more stress hormones, which interfere with insulin’s ability to be effective.” In one study, duration and quality of sleep was shown to be associated with prediabetes. Another factor could be that we tend to crave kilojoules and junk food for energy when we’re tired – plus, we don’t feel like exercising. This can lead to inactivity and weight gain, other risk factors for prediabetes.

You have a family history of diabetes

You have a family history of diabetes
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Among the medical facts you should know is your family’s health history. “There can be a genetic cause for the development of type 2 diabetes due to certain gene mutations,” Dr Adimoolam says. “Some people may have a genetic predisposition to developing type 2 diabetes due to presence of certain genes than have been passed down from one generation to the next.” One study in Diabetologia found that a family history of diabetes increased the risk for prediabetes by 26 per cent. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) says that you’re more likely to develop diabetes if you have a family history of the disease. In addition, “Some data suggests that the risk of type 2 diabetes is five times higher in those with diabetes on both the maternal and paternal sides of the family,” Dr Adimoolam says.

You’re of a certain age

You’re of a certain age
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There are many reasons why you’ll age better than your parents, including that you know age itself is a risk factor for certain conditions – so you’ll take measures to prevent them. Unfortunately, prediabetes is more likely in older people. “The higher your age, the greater risk for development of diabetes,” Dr Adimoolam says. “This might be related to increased body fat with age, which increases one’s risk for type 2 diabetes.” In addition, Dr Ng says that high blood pressure and high cholesterol are also risk factors for prediabetes. These are all common conditions as we age, and are also associated with metabolic syndrome, a cluster of disorders that can lead to heart disease and stroke.

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