It happens: you experience subtle or bizarre symptoms, like fatigue, tiredness or weakness. They seem harmless, so you move on with your day. These are just the signs of working hard in today's fast-paced society, right?
While symptoms like fatigue, weakness or tiredness may be indicators of very minor issues, they can also be an alarm for something more serious, like high blood sugar, pre-diabetes or even diabetes.
What's The Big Deal?
Studies show that millions of Americans live every day without knowing they are pre-diabetic or even diabetic. What's worse, people with both diabetes and pre-diabetes have an increased risk of having heart problems and stroke. Imagine being at an increased risk for serious health conditions and not knowing.
Diabetes, a progressive disease in which a person has too much sugar (a.k.a. glucose) in their blood, is a lifelong condition that can cause significant health problems if it is not treated and managed properly. Likewise, pre-diabetes means that your blood sugar is high, but not so much that it is considered diabetes.
So, what can you do to make sure you aren't living with, or developing, one of these conditions? Katheryn Jadeed MD, a primary care physician at Group Health - A TriHealth Physician Partner, weighs in.
#1. Understand who is at risk.
While family history plays a role in the development of prediabetes and diabetes, it most commonly develops in people who are overweight or less active.
"Diabetes is extremely common in the United States. We think that probably has a lot to do with the skyrocketing prevalence of obesity," says Katheryn Jadeed MD.
#2. Recognize the symptoms.
Unfortunately, people with diabetes sometimes show no symptoms - even if their blood sugar levels are high. "That's one of the things that's really tricky about diabetes," Dr. Jadeed explains.
However, if a person's blood sugar is high they may notice symptoms such as:
- Increased thirst
- Increased urination through the day and night
- Weight loss (This weight loss may be rapid)
- Frequent infections
- Vision changes, such as blurred vision
- Fruity smell to your breath
- Stomach pain
#3. Talk to your doctor.
"There is not a particular age in which a person needs to be screened for diabetes," Dr. Jadeed points out. It is important, however, to screen early for high blood sugar as timely treatment can prevent serious problems.
If you have a family history of diabetes or notice symptoms, she suggests a glucose test, which requires fasting for 10 - 12 hours prior. "For that reason, people usually like to plan their testing in the morning before they've had breakfast."
You may also be prompted to screen for diabetes if you suffer from heart disease, high lipids, or hypertension.
And, while there may be no cure for diabetes, a few simple lifestyle changes can go a long way in preventing these conditions or managing symptoms. Maintaining a healthy weight, monitoring carbohydrate intake, and participating in regular physical activity, all contribute to slowing disease progression.