KEY POINTS

  • More than 1 out of 3 Americans have prediabetes
  • About 90% of them aren’t aware that they are prediabetic
  • Warning Sign: Darkened skin in certain body parts

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 84 million Americans, i.e. more than 1 out of 3 people have prediabetes. And among the prediabetics, about 90% of them aren’t aware that they have it.

You might be prediabetic if your blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not yet that high enough to be considered diabetic. The condition affects both adults and children. It can cause long-term damage including heart diseases, and problems with kidneys and blood vessels.

It isn’t inevitable that prediabetes would progress into type 2 diabetes. Adhering to a healthy diet and engaging in regular physical activity alongside maintaining a healthy body weight can help reverse prediabetes. Thus it is important to detect the condition at an early stage in order to take adequate measures to prevent diabetes progression.

Warning sign to watch out for: Darkened neck, armpits, elbows, knees or knuckles

Dark skin aka acanthosis nigricans is often considered a warning sign of prediabetes. Dark patches of velvety skin on certain body parts including the back of the neck, groin, armpit and other areas is a clear indication that you have an excess of insulin in your blood.

Other symptoms of prediabetes include increased thirst, frequent urination, fatigue, and blurred vision. The Mayo Clinic opines that you should consult your doctor if you’re concerned about diabetes or if in case you notice any kind of type 2 diabetes symptoms. It is recommended that all individuals are regularly screened for blood glucose levels if there are any risk factors of prediabetes.

While the exact cause of prediabetes is unclear, certain factors including family history, genetics, physical inactivity, excess body fat, especially visceral fat play an important role. It is clear that individuals with prediabetes cannot process glucose efficiently. It leads to an accumulation of sugar in the bloodstream.

Glucose comes from food sources and during digestion, sugar enters the bloodstream. Moving sugar from the bloodstream to other cells of the body is enabled by the hormone insulin. It is secreted by a gland located in the pancreas. When this hormone circulates, it not only allows sugar to enter the cells but also lowers the amount of sugar in the bloodstream. And when there is a drop in blood sugar levels, insulin production is also lowered.

But when you are prediabetic, this process gets impaired and instead of fueling your cells, the sugar gets accumulated in your bloodstream. It can happen when your pancreas doesn’t secrete enough insulin or when you become insulin-resistant.

ancient-1869218_1920 Darkened skin on the back of the neck could be a warning sign of prediabetes Photo: Pexels, Pixabay