One tenth of the world’s population has diabetes. With the ever increasing cases of obesity, the stage is set for diabetes to assume pandemic proportions. To make it worse, one third of the cases is not diagnosed in early stages. Most individuals harbor elevated blood sugar levels for three to five years before it catches their attention.
There is a silver lining though. Early diabetes can be diagnosed and is reversible too. As people start adding those extra pounds, sugar levels in their blood start shooting up as the body fails to handle growing fat. It is best to detect this phase of “pre-diabetes” which serves as a prelude before the situation gets out of hand.
Losing weight at this stage goes a long way in reversing the deranged metabolism; it can correct cholesterol and bring down sugar levels to normal. This was first noticed in patients who underwent bariatric surgery, to lose weight. Not only did the patients lose weight, the surgery also normalized their blood sugar levels and they could stop using all anti-diabetic drugs. Over the years, it was established that exercising strict diet control can have similar effects.
However, the desired metabolic changes to reverse diabetes can be brought about only during a certain time period and this window of opportunity should be seized before the change becomes irreversible. This is because, in early stages of diabetes, the pancreas is exposed to excess sugar levels in the blood and produces more insulin to cater to the body’s requirements. Once this stress becomes unbearable, the pancreatic cells begin to die out, causing frank diabetes which is irreversible.
Hence it is recommended that type 2 diabetes screening should be performed in adults of all age groups who are overweight or obese and who exhibit one or more diabetes risk factors.Overweight children with 2 risk factors should also be tested for diabetes.
The following have been outlined as risk factors:
- Physical inactivity
- Deranged cholesterol and lipid
- Abnormal or borderline sugars on prior testing
- Women with diabetes in pregnancy or those with large baby weight at birth (>3.5 kg)
- Women with poly-cystic ovarian syndrome
- Diabetes or heart disease in the family
The recommended diabetes screening tests are simple Fasting Blood Sugar (FBS), which often clinches the diagnosis. Testing for sugar levels more than 2 hours after a meal (postprandial sugar) detects diabetes at an earlier stage when the body fails to handle the dietary sugar load; a condition known as ‘impaired glucose tolerance’.
Sometimes exercising diet control a few days before taking the tests can lead to the above two tests showing sugar levels in the normal range; in such cases HbA1c can be used. It provides an estimate of overall blood sugar control over the past 3 months.
The results, however, should always be interpreted with caution, as a number of other conditions affecting the hemoglobin levels can modify the HbA1c results.
Early Diabetes Is Indeed Reversible – If You Know About It, That Is.
Please feel free to post your questions on diabetes, will be happy to answer them for you. For a basic understanding of diabetes, you can also refer to our earlier post on the same subject over here.