Since diabetes is so serious and prevalent, you might expect it to be obvious if you were at risk for it. However, that is not always the case. In fact, 1 in 3 adults have prediabetes, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that 84% of them do not know it. That is a problem because prediabetes is likely to progress to type 2 diabetes within years if it is not treated.
Why is prediabetes so sneaky? In most cases, it has no symptoms, and only a blood test would let you know that you have it. Uncontrolled diabetes, though, has many possible signs and symptoms.
What Are Diabetes and Prediabetes?
Diabetes is higher-than-normal blood sugar, and type 2 diabetes is caused by insulin resistance. It can be partly genetic, but is largely related to lifestyle. Treatment can include medications, weight loss, a healthy diet, and physical activity. Prediabetes is blood sugar that is higher than normal, but lower than in diabetes.
Signs That You May Have Diabetes
Prediabetes usually has no signs, but diabetes can have them. If you notice these signs, it may be time to get a blood sugar or A1C test to see you have prediabetes or diabetes.
Sign 1: Your Refrigerator Is Empty
Your refrigerator may be empty (or not very well stocked) because you are not preparing many meals at home. Instead, you may be eating out, or ordering in, often. All those restaurant-prepared meals may be putting you at risk for prediabetes and type 2 diabetes.
Studies have found that eating more "meals prepared at home" can lower risk for type 2 diabetes compared to eating more meals prepared outside the home. For example, in a study published in PLOS Medicine, researchers concluded that adults who had 11 to 14 meals per week prepared at home has less weight gain over time than those who had 0 to 6 meals prepared at home
That may be for a few reasons.
Meals prepared outside the home may include more calorie-dense foods, such as fried foods, fatty foods, and starchy foods. These can raise risk for weight gain and obesity, which raises diabetes risk.
Portions may be bigger, putting you at risk for weight gain.
Meals prepared at home may be higher in fruits and vegetables, which can be protective against type 2 diabetes.
Sign 2: You Cannot Prevent An Afternoon Snooze
There can be many reasons for being tired in the afternoon, and some of them may be related to diabetes. For example, it may be lack of sleep or lack of physical activity. Both of these raise diabetes risk.
Another reason for being too tired to get through an afternoon meeting may be low blood sugar after a lunch high in carbs and unhealthy fats. Sandwiches and chow mein or other noodles are examples. If you have diabetes, foods that are high in carbohydrates can cause blood sugar to spike and then fall dramatically, according to Harvard School of Public Health. The result can be that you feel tired, not to mention hungry and possibly cranky.
Regularly consuming high amounts of saturated fats can, over time, increase insulin resistance and blood sugar levels, according to research in Diabetes Care. Cold cut sandwiches, hamburgers, and pizza are examples of lunches with saturated fat.
Sign 3: You Are BFF With Your Couch and Television
People who watch more television and sit more often have a higher risk for type 2 diabetes, according to research published in Diabetic Medicine. Sitting for long periods of time raises insulin resistance. Watching television can have other harmful effects.
People tend to eat high-calorie snacks while watching TV, leading to weight gain.
Time spent watching TV is time not spent being physically active. Exercise helps reduce blood sugar and control weight.
TV commercials can increase cravings for high-calorie foods.
Sign 4: Your Alarm Goes Off Way Too Early
Actually, your alarm is fine. The problem is that you are going to bed too late. If it feels like your alarm is going off too early every day, you are probably short on sleep. That does not just zap energy, but interferes with blood sugar control.
Sleep deprivation increases insulin resistance, according to research published in the Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism, and raises risk for prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. It also increases hunger and makes high-carb foods more tempting. That can lead to eating oversized portions of high-calorie foods, which can lead to weight gain and further risk for prediabetes and type 2 diabetes.
Sign 5: Age Is Catching Up With You
Are you noticing a few more gray hairs or crow's feet? These reminders that you are getting older can be lifesaving if they make you realize that it is time to test blood sugar. Insulin resistance and your risk for diabetes naturally increase as you get older. The risk of diabetes is 4 times as high when you are 45 to 64 years old compared to what it was when under 44 years old, and 7 times as high when you are 65 or over. For prediabetes, the risk is 70% higher for ages 45-64 as compared to under 44 years old, and double for ages 65 and over. These statistics are available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Signs and symptoms are unlikely to appear during prediabetes, so don't wait for them! Instead, it is time to take action if you have prediabetes or have other risk factors for developing diabetes. You could be at risk for type 2 diabetes and eligible for a Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) if you have one or more risk factors such as being overweight or obese, being over 45 years old, being physically inactive, or having a family history of type 2 diabetes.
Lark Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) offers coaching through your smartphone to help manage prediabetes and lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Your Lark coach is always available to help with lifestyle choices that can prevent or delay the onset of diabetes. Lark is designed to help you establish healthy habits around areas, such as weight loss, nutrition, physical activity, and even sleep and stress management, that can effectively lower blood sugar and help avoid symptoms of diabetes. Plus, you may even get a scale or Fitbit without any cost to you!
The entire program may be available to you for no cost if your health insurer participates. Click here to find out if you may be eligible for Lark! Lark is completely convenient and ready to chat whenever you are. You could be minutes away from taking the first steps to managing prediabetes and improving health.
Lark helps you eat better, move more, stress less, and improve your overall wellness. Lark’s digital coach is available 24/7 on your smartphone to give you personalized tips, recommendations, and motivation to lose weight and prevent chronic conditions like diabetes.