DC-area medical professionals are raising awareness about prediabetes, which 1 in 3 Americans suffer from, and many of them may not even know it.
According to the CDC, one in three Americans has prediabetes and many of them may not even know it.
In DC alone, more than 160,000 people have the disease, according to the American Diabetes Association.
The same report also says that, of those at risk but not yet fully diabetic, up to 80% may not be aware of the symptoms and conditions of prediabetes and do not go to the doctor until it is too late.
That’s why DC area medical professionals are raising awareness about prediabetes, what you need to know, and how you can change course. It’s especially timely since the month of November is National Diabetes Awareness Month.
“Prediabetes is essentially a warning sign for the body,” said Dr. Kwame Akoto, a Maryland-based Kaiser Permanente family medicine specialist. “His blood sugar is elevated, but he hasn’t crossed diabetic thresholds yet.”
Akoto said the symptoms can mimic other diseases and may include, but are not limited to, certain telltale signs.
“If you start to notice any unusual symptoms — fatigue, headaches, frequent urination, excessive thirst — you should make an appointment with your medical provider,” he said. “Especially if you are predisposed to diabetes.”
Akoto said being overweight and inactivity are two of the biggest contributors to prediabetes.
“As we see our weight increase, so does our risk factor for developing these diseases,” he said.
But there is also genetics. And that’s a story Lloyd Bailey knows all too well.
In 2017, Bailey said she saw Akoto because she noticed the same symptoms. He was worried because he came from a family of diabetics.
“I wasn’t myself,” he told WTOP. “And I’m so grateful I decided to go to the doctor when I did.”
Through blood tests, he discovered he was prediabetic and managed to reverse course before it turned into type 2 diabetes.
“It really came down to lifestyle changes,” Lloyd said. “What are you doing now that you could change for the better?”
“Dr. Akoto helped guide me, but ultimately, my health was my responsibility,” he added.
Akoto said changing what you eat and your activity level are two things that can help reverse prediabetic conditions.
“Make sure you exercise an average of 150 minutes per week,” the doctor said. “But you can divide that however you want.”
Akoto and Bailey said acting quickly is also key.
“Diabetes is in my bloodline,” Bailey reflected. “But that doesn’t mean it has to be my story. My advice… I would say: get checked.”