About 40 percent of adults ages 40 to 74 — or 41 million people — have pre-diabetes, a condition that raises a person's risk for developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.

Though diabetes type 2 (T2) is often associated with obesity, you can contract it due to a genetic predisposition as well.

Since diabetes T2 usually strikes during mid-life the signs and symptoms are often confused with aging. In fact, prior to 2000 it was called adult onset diabetes because children did not contract it. However, for reasons that are not entirely clear, the disease is now prevalent in all age groups, ethnic groups and both sexes.

Diabetes T2 is not really a disease - and is not in any way contagious – it’s a metabolic disorder. It starts when either the pancreas does not make enough insulin or, more likely, the cells fail to process insulin properly.

When the cells become insulin resistant glucose (the body’s sugar) builds up in the bloodstream. If your sugar metabolism is functioning normally your cells process the insulin, which in turn helps burn up the glucose. That is how we get energy.

Obviously, since glucose is the body’s fuel source when this basic metabolic function fails problems start arising. To begin with they are rather subtle. You might feel a little more tired than usual. You could find yourself feeling fatigued doing things that used to be a snap.

There are other more obvious signs and symptoms however. If you find yourself getting thirsty a lot and having to go to the bathroom more often, you could be pre-diabetic. This is especially true if you wake up several times in the middle of the night and have to go to the bathroom.

Well the difficulty is that those things also happen as we age so it is not hard to understand why people walk around with pre-diabetes not knowing what’s going on. The reality is that most T2 diabetics live with it for 2-5 years in an undiagnosed state.

Then there are mental and emotional signs and symptoms to watch for as well. If you find yourself having more trouble concentrating than you can recall, you may be pre-diabetic. Feeling like you’re in a mental fog is another symptom to be aware of.

Becoming irritated and sweating the small stuff that would never have bothered you in years gone by is yet another symptom. Noticing an unusual kind of moodiness is a possible sign as well.

The best way to avoid becoming a diabetic is to simply have your doctor conduct a simple finger stick test and an A1C. The first gives you an instant readout of your current blood glucose level. The normal fasting range is 90-110 ddl. The second is a more accurate test that measures your average blood glucose level over the last 3 months; 6.5 or below is normal.

Diabetes T2 has increased dramatically over the past dozen years. You can easily avoid becoming a statistic by 1) becoming aware of the signs and symptoms and 2) having your doctor conduct the above tests. They are not expensive.

If you find that you are pre-diabetic do not become alarmed. That does not mean that your fate is sealed. By making several simple dietary changes and increasing your level of daily, physical activity you can reset your metabolism and prevent it.

However, once you cross the line and your finger stick is above 115 (fasting level) combined with an A1C of 7 or above, you are diabetic and there is no going back.

The reality is that tens of millions of Americans are walking around, feeling out of sorts, yet not knowing the cause of their malaise. But that need not be the case.

Studies have shown that eating fewer simple carbohydrates (sugary foods), exercising regularly and losing weight, a pre-diabetic can be dialed back to normal.

Author's Bio: 

Will Hart is widely published journalist and book author. His latest book 45-55+ Alive! (Your 'blue zone' guide to longevity) is available on Amazon.