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Prediabetes – the Calm before the Storm – Often Goes Unnoticed

Early diagnosis of prediabetes may help postpone or prevent onset of Type 2 diabetes.

Co​uld someone have diabetes and not know it?

“Yes, patients with Type 2 diabetes may not show noticeable symptoms for a while, whereas prediabetes patients show no symptoms at all,” says Victor Simms, MD, MPH, FACP, a chief of Internal Medicine at Kelsey-Seybold Clinic.

“Prediabetes occurs when blood glucose levels are higher than normal yet too low to qualify for a diabetes diagnosis,” Dr. Simms says. “This condition is almost always present before developing Type 2 diabetes with increased risks for complications such as blindness, heart attack, stroke and amputations.”

He says characteristics for developing Type 2 diabetes include obesity; being older than 45; having a family history of diabetes; and being African-American, Hispanic, Native American or Asian.

“Unlike prediabetes, Type 2 diabetes patients can have noticeable symptoms including overly frequent urination; unusual thirst; unexplained, ongoing fatigue; cuts that are slow to heal; headaches; blurred vision; and a tingling or numbness in the hands and/or feet,” Dr. Simms says. “With Type 1 diabetes, which usually occurs in childhood, the pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin or none at all. Type 2 diabetes is the combination of insufficient insulin production and insulin resistance.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates 88 million American adults may be living with prediabetes.

“If diagnosed in the early stages, doctors can offer lifestyle strategies and prescription medications to help postpone or even prevent the onset of Type 2 diabetes,” he advises. “If you’re concerned, please see a physician for an evaluation.” 
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Victor Simms, MD, MPH, FACP


My philosophy of patient care is a combination of compassionate care for patients and the science of medicine. Part of what we do is not just to tell people the nuts and bolts of the science of what’s going on but also to walk with them through the process. I think most fear comes from not knowing. So the first thing we do is educate the patient about the disease and then I tell them how that’s going to affect their life and the things that we need to do to better them. In addition, I tell them I’m going to be going through the process with them. Whether that means they need to call me to ask questions, schedule extra visits to educate them or find other avenues of support for them. I think when people feel supported they know what they’re dealing with and the worry and feel about their illness dissipates.