Impaired glucose tolerance causes raised blood sugar. However, it is not high enough to be considered diabetic. This condition does increase your risk of developing diabetes, but that is hardly the end of your problems because it also increases your risk of developing cardiovascular diseases like heart disease, peripheral vascular disease and stroke. Treatment of impaired glucose is an important part of preventing more serious conditions.
What Is Impaired Glucose Tolerance?
Impaired glucose intolerance is also known as prediabetes. Your body requires a specific level of sugar in the blood, but the blood sugar must remain at a careful balance, not too high and not too low. Impaired glucose intolerance is when the sugar in the blood exceeds the maximum amount that is healthy, but not so high that it crosses the line into diabetes. Due to a lack of symptoms, impaired glucose often goes undetected and is usually found in blood tests during a checkup.
Healthy glucose levels are between four and eight millimeters per liter. Your glucose levels will be higher after eating, and are often lowest in the morning due to hours spent sleeping instead of eating. Your doctor will do a random blood glucose level test on a routine exam. This means that you are not required to change your eating patterns before the blood work is done. Your doctor may request you complete a fasting blood glucose level test, in which you are instructed to fast for a specific amount of time before the test is done. The fasting allows the doctor to see how your body is processing glucose without the pattern being interrupted by the addition of more food. A fasting blood glucose level test should come back with less than 6 millimeters of glucose per liter of blood.
How Common Is Impaired Glucose Tolerance?
Due to a lack of symptoms, many people that have impaired glucose have no idea that this condition affects them. This makes it difficult to compile exact figures on how many people are affected by this condition. It is estimated that around 20 million people have impaired glucose in the US, and around 7 million in the UK. This works out to be about 10% of the population in these instances. Unhealthy modern eating habits might be contributing to these rates.
What’s the Risk of Developing Diabetes for a Person with IGT? And How to Prevent It
We all know that a sedentary lifestyle leads to increased weight gain. However, if you have impaired glucose, maintaining a healthy weight is an important element in preventing the development of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. A family history of diabetes or cardiovascular disease also increases your risk of developing these serious conditions, and methods used to prevent the development of diabetes should be discussed with a doctor.
We would all like to think that there is a pill to cure every ill in these modern times. Unfortunately, there is not an effective medication to treat impaired glucose tolerance, so lifestyle changes are the most effective method of treating this condition. The good news is that lifestyle changes are effective of managing pre-diabetes. Some of the most effective changes you can make to your lifestyle are:
- Balanced diet – You want to focus on eating a diet that is contains little fat and high fiber. Be sure to eat starchy foods. Of course, you want to include plenty of fruit and vegetables. Your doctor, nurse or a dietician will help you develop a healthy eating plan.
- Maintain a healthy weight – Being overweight is not healthy for anyone, but for people with impaired glucose, it is especially important. Excess weight causes raised blood sugar. Losing weight can lower your glucose levels back into to a healthy range. Your doctor can help you decide on a weight lose program if you need it.
- Exercise regularly – Being physically active is crucial to maintaining a healthy weight. Low-impact activities like walking, tai chi, cycling, jogging or dancing will keep your metabolism active. You should do one of these activities for 30 minutes five times a week, but do what you can. Discuss any exercise program with your doctor before you begin.
- Quit smoking – Once again, this is good advice for anyone. The health benefits of quitting smoking apply to everyone.
- Reduce alcohol consumption – Consuming alcohol raises your blood sugar, so people with impaired glucose intolerance should limited the intake of it.
It is important to keep follow up appointments with your doctor, which will likely include a trip to the lab to have your blood sugar levels tested and ensure you have not developed diabetes. Should you develop the condition, early detection and treatment will be very important to managing diabetes.