In recognition of November’s National Diabetes Month awareness campaign, health care professionals here are encouraging discussion about the dangers of the disease and steps that can be taken to combat its damaging effects.

The Mayo Clinic lists the following as increasing one’s risk for developing pre-diabetes: being overweight, physical inactivity, family history of type 2 diabetes, advancing age, race and history of gestational diabetes.

Pre-diabetes or above-average blood glucose levels is common in people who are often later diagnosed with type-2 diabetes. However, the chances of developing this life-altering ailment can be decreased or eliminated by eating healthy, becoming physically active and managing one’s weight.

The American Diabetes Association states there are no clear symptoms of pre-diabetes, so, individuals may have it and not be aware of it. Common warning signs often mirror those of actual diabetes such as extreme thirst, frequent urination, fatigue, slow-healing wounds, tingling in the hands or feet, and blurred vision. Often, there are no symptoms at all and pre-diabetes must be diagnosed by a health care professional.

According to research, damage to one’s body may already be occurring during pre-diabetes. Consider it as a warning call to look at unhealthy eating habits, inadequate exercise and habits leading to weight gain. Many people miss making small changes to stop the course of diabetes. Try adding small strategies to your daily routine.

The following are some other tips to help manage pre-diabetes:

  • Talk with your primary care provider about lifestyle changes that are safe in relation to your medical history. Share plans of changing your diet or beginning a fitness program. Your provider’s advice may depend on your overall health, such as the condition of your heart, blood vessels, eyes, kidneys, feet and nervous system.
  • Talk with your provider about joint or bone problems that make it difficult for you to exercise. There are a wide variety of fitness moves that will decrease impact to sensitive joints.
  • Ask your provider how increasing your activity level might impact any medications you take for chronic conditions such as high blood pressure and heart problems.
  • Choose your plan and track progress. It can be motivating to write down what physical activity you’ve done each day along with achieved goals.
  • Start slowly with realistic exercises that are not overly complicated. The activity should be somewhat challenging but not too difficult. Walking briskly, water fitness or use of stationary bikes along with proper foot wear can improve performance and lessen the impact to sensitive joints. A pedometer helps determine the amount of walking you’ve completed and makes it simple to track progress.
  • Carry water and healthy snacks with you while exercising. Drink plenty of water before, during and after activity. If you are at risk for low blood glucose, always carry a source of carbohydrates in order to counteract any ill effects.
  • Remember to start slowly and consistently add activities and good habits. If recommended by your physician, wear a medical identification bracelet, necklace or identification tag for information in cases of emergency.

A diagnosis of diabetes can be overwhelming. Taking action to be an active part of your health care is the first step to success. For more information and resources about living with diabetes, visit www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/heart/obesity/lose_wt/index.htm.