Millions of Americans Have This Dangerous Disease, But Don’t Know It


Over 70 million Americans have a potentially-deadly disease—and they don't even know it.

According to a recently released report from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), nearly 90 percent of adults with pre diabetes—a type 2 diabetes precursor, hallmarked by elevated blood sugar levels—are completely unaware they have it, and are therefore unaware of the damage being done to their bodies.

Pre diabetes affects an estimated 79 million Americans overall.

While not everyone with abnormal blood sugar will develop the full-blown version of the disease, anywhere between 15 and 30 percent of pre diabetics will acquire type 2 diabetes within five years of being diagnosed, says the American Diabetes Association (ADA).

Many people fail to recognize that they are pre diabetic because higher-than-normal blood sugar levels don't always cause immediately distinguishable symptoms. However, the disorder gradually gets worse over time, as do its side effects.

When signs of pre diabetes do appear, they typically mimic those seen in diabetics:

  • severe tiredness
  • infections that won't go away,
  • wounds that won't heal
  • being thirstier than usual
  • having to urinate more than usual

Another potential indicator of impending diabetes danger can be found on the skin.

Acanthosis nigricans is a condition that causes patches of thicker, darker skin to develop in folds and body creases. This disorder can be benign and may be attributable to race (people of African descent are more likely to get it) or certain medications, such as birth control pills. But, it can also point to underlying health issues, particularly diabetes.

The good news? Pre diabetes can be reversed.

Adopting a healthy diet and exercising more frequently are the two primary ways that individuals with pre diabetes can get their blood sugar levels back in line and reduce their chances of becoming diabetic. Studies show that pre diabetics who exercised 30 minutes a day and lost seven percent of their body weight were able to slash their chances of getting type 2 diabetes by 58 percent, according to the CDC.

But beware. Even those who dodge a diabetes diagnosis don't always get off scot-free. Off kilter blood sugar can wreak havoc on your heart and circulatory system, cautions the ADA.

It's vitally important to become aware of the common diabetes risk factors so you know what to look out for. Communicate any concerns you may have about pre diabetes to your doctor.

The only way to tell for sure whether you or your loved one is pre diabetic is to undergo a blood glucose level test. See this article to get additional information on these tests and learn more about the ins and outs of diagnosing and treating pre diabetes.

You May Also Like

Free AgingCare Guides

Get the latest care advice and articles delivered to your inbox!


The World Health Association recommends avoiding the terms "pre-diabetes/pre-diabetic" because of the emotional reaction people have to them - and the fact that such folks may not always "get" diabetes but may indeed develop the other dangerous conditions mentioned. It is a cluster of symptoms rather than a disease per se: really a yellow flag indicating unhealthy practices that need to be corrected poste-haste, namely poor diet and - as you mention above - excess weight and not enough exercise. I'm guessing that chronic stress from caregiving or other causes is a hazard, too, due to elevated cortisol and adrenaline, which in turn jacks up blood glucose.