Type 2 diabetes symptoms appear early, study finds

Type 2 diabetes often goes undiagnosed until an individual has developed a relatively advanced case. However, when warning signs are detected early, while the person is still in a state known as prediabetes, it may be possible to avoid the condition entirely by making healthier lifestyle choices.

Research recently presented at the Annual Meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes showed that it is possible to accurately identify an individual who has prediabetes at an early enough stage for them to avoid developing the full-blown condition, according to Medscape.

Investigators discovered that a person's HbA1c and glucose levels begin spiking dramatically years before they could be considered to have type 2 diabetes. Researchers from the VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam came to this conclusion after tracking the health 565 adults for around 20 years.

HbA1c levels appeared to be the strongest predictor of future diabetes risk, as this measure began rising much earlier than blood sugar levels in people who went on to develop the condition, the researchers told the news source.

The findings could provide medical professionals with a valuable tool to diagnose individuals who are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes early, before they are affected by the condition. Despite the fact that it can be diagnosed early and is effectively prevented through improved diet and exercise, the American Diabetes Association estimates that up to 1 million people have undiagnosed diabetes.

These individuals are at a much higher risk of experiencing a range of health complications that arise as a result of continually unchecked blood sugar. Excess glucose in the veins can lead to cardiovascular disease, kidney failure and nerve damage.

An early diagnosis is the key to avoiding the complications and perhaps even preventing type 2 diabetes entirely. The new findings suggest that it may be possible to provide more individuals with this important early warning.