SSM Health Medical Minute – How to prevent prediabetes from becoming diabetes

Medical Minute

ST. LOUIS – What does it mean to be prediabetic? Prediabetes is a condition that increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart, and stroke. Individuals with prediabetes have higher than normal glucose levels, but not high enough to be classified as diabetes.

Patients with prediabetes are on track to develop diabetes if they do not take preventative steps. 

Dr. Jarrett Dawson, a family medicine physician at SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital, says, “prediabetes is like raising a red flag” toward diabetes. The way to test if you are prediabetic is to get tested for “hemoglobin A1C and fasting blood sugar, serum glucose. Unfortunately, prediabetes is one of those things that doesn’t have any symptoms for most people.” 

Dr. Dawson says it can be a silent disease. Risk factors include people who have a family history, are obese, people who are inactive.

If you think you could be prediabetic, Dr. Dawson says to talk with your doctor and ask for testing.  Diabetes is on the rise and has been for many years due to our lifestyle, fast food, and obesity numbers going up. A motivated patient should work with their physician to discuss steps to take to reduce their risk. 

“My recommendation would be to modify the risk factors. Get active; up to 30-minutes a day to get your heart rate up,” Dawson said. “The other thing would be to make diet changes. Look at what you are eating and drinking. Cut out the sweets, even sugary drinks.”

“I like to give my patients the ‘white and fluffy talk.’ If the food is white and fluffy on the outside, it’s going to turn white and fluffy on the inside. White rice, white bread, potatoes, pasta. These are carb-rich dense foods without any other nutritional value. They are going to make you gain weight.” 

For people who have prediabetes, he encourages you to take it seriously and encourages you to do what you can to prevent it now.

Common Symptoms of Diabetes

Diabetes can often go undiagnosed in patients due to the commonality of its symptoms. These symptoms may include:

  • Frequent urination
  • Excessive thirst
  • Extreme hunger
  • Unusual weight loss
  • Increased fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Blurry vision

To learn more about symptoms and treatment for diabetes, click here.

The SSM Health Medical Minute airs Wednesdays on News 11 at 7pm and FOX 2 News at 9pm.

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