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Tips to Understand the Physiology of Pre-diabetes

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Pre-diabetes almost always precedes diabetes type 2. Before you become a type 2 diabetic, you most likely had slightly higher than normal blood glucose levels. In the United States there are approximately 57 million people who have pre-diabetes. Pre-diabetes can cause damage to the heart and circulatory system, just as individuals living with diabetes mellitus. The following tips will help you recognize the risks of pre-diabetes.

Pre-diabetes is the precursor to a diagnosis of diabetes mellitus; however, if you take measures to improve your diet and start a regular exercise routine, you may be able to prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes. If you have a fasting blood sugar of 100 to 126 mg/dl you will likely be diagnosed as a pre-diabetic. If your fasting blood sugars are greater than 126 mg/dl you will likely be diagnosed as a type 1 or type 2 diabetic.

Many people with pre-diabetes don’t have any symptoms at all; therefore, they may never know they are at risk for having diabetes mellitus unless something happens that causes them to see a doctor and blood tests are drawn. However, there are symptoms that do show up quite often with pre-diabetics, such as extreme thirst, frequent trips to the rest room to urinate, unintentional weight loss, extreme hunger, blurred vision, frequent infections, and slow healing of wounds. If you have any of these symptoms, you should mention them to your doctor. Your health care professional can schedule you for a fasting blood glucose test to determine if your blood sugar is elevated. You can also check your blood glucose level yourself, if you know someone with a glucometer. If your blood glucose reading on the glucose meter is over 100 you should mention it to your health care professional.

To understand what causes pre-diabetes, you need to understand how your body produces fuel for the body. Part of the fuel comes from what you eat, and the other part of the fuel comes from glycogen that is stored in the liver. When you eat, the carbohydrates are converted into glucose, which is the fuel your body uses. For immediate energy, the body uses glucose from the food in the stomach and small intestine. The glucose enters the circulatory system, and insulin acts like a carrier to transport the glucose into the cells. The glucose that isn’t used is sent to the liver and it is converted to a polysaccharide through catabolism and stored as glycogen. When the liver has stored enough glycogen, the rest of the glucose starts building up in the blood.

The liver, which stores glycogen, is a safety feature for when you go long hours without eating. The glycogen is converted back to useable glucose to give you quick energy. When this process doesn’t work properly, the body cannot get the glucose it needs to survive. When you don’t have enough insulin in your body to carry insulin into your body’s cells, the blood glucose builds up in your blood stream. When your body cannot get the glucose for fuel, you may develop symptoms that tell you something is wrong, such as nausea, hunger, shaking, and other symptoms of elevated blood sugar levels.

When your body is working the way it is supposed to, your insulin is secreted in direct proportion to your increase or decrease in blood glucose. When your blood sugar rises, your pancreas will be stimulated to release the hormone, insulin. When your blood sugar decreases, your pancreas will stop pumping insulin into the blood stream. When the delicate balance is upset, you can become a pre-diabetic without ever knowing it. You may be able to avoid ever becoming a pre-diabetic by making changes in your lifestyle early.

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