Take control of your pre-diabetes, why it’s so important?

Here’s why it’s so important to take control of your pre-diabetes: when you eat, the carbohydrates in your food are turned into glucose (sugar), which circulates in your bloodstream. Insulin, a hormone that’s produced in your pancreas, lets your cells absorb the glucose from your blood and use it for the energy they need to function.

If you have type 2 diabetes, your body doesn’t respond as well to insulin, so the unused sugar builds up in your blood stream. When you have pre-diabetes, you’re not fully reacting to your insulin, but your blood sugar levels aren’t as high (100 to 125 mg/dl or an HbA1C, a measurement of blood sugar over time, of 5.7 to 6.4) as they would be if you had full fledged diabetes (126 mg/dl or above or an HbA1C of 6.5 or above).

High blood sugar is dangerous because it harms your blood vessels by lowering your level of nitric oxide, which keeps blood vessels open and supple. The result is narrowing, stiffening blood vessels, which can lead to high blood pressure and blood vessel damage—and may eventually cause heart disease, as well as affect your vision, your kidneys, and your ability to heal.

The damage to your blood vessels starts well before your blood sugar reaches the level at which type 2 diabetes is diagnosed. That’s why docs are so keen on recognising and treating pre- diabetes early—so you can stop or slow possible problems down the road.

Tweaking your lifestyle: getting at least 30 minutes of exercise, eating low cal, high-fibre nutritious foods, cutting down stress, sleeping well and losing weight is key to managing the condition.

“Your doctor will prescribe medication (metformin) if your values are closer to diabetes values or if a musculo-skeletal problem stops you from exercising,” says Dr Binayak Sinha, consultant endocrinologist at AMRI Hospitals, Kolkata.

He also recommends that people with pre-diabetes check their sugar levels once in 3 months and HbA1C every 6 months. If the blood glucose levels are in the normal range, they can be checked twice a year thereafter. —With inputs from Kathakoli Dasgupta

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