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Better to know than not: Simple test for diabetes can save your life

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- It was bad news she really didn't want to hear, but now she's so glad she did.

"I was diagnosed early, so I'm lucky. I do what I'm supposed to do, what my doctor tells me, to the best of my ability," said Pam Benton about her doctor telling her she was pre-diabetic 15 years ago.

"I'm lucky I can control mine with medicine, I don't have be on insulin or anything like that. I walk a lot, eat better. I'm so glad I know."

Benton had an A1C blood panel test. It measures your average blood sugar level for the past three months and if it's higher than 5.7 percent but below 6.4 percent, you're considered to be prediabetic.

"It's huge, truly, a diabetes tsunami," said Dr. Catherine Rolih, an endocrinologist with Novant Health's Diabetes Center. "We are seeing so many more people with type 2 diabetes these days; even children who are 12 and 13 years old."

About 54 million people in the United States have pre-diabetes, but because it doesn't have any symptoms, people rarely know they have it. The good news is that pre-diabetes can be reversed and can delay or even prevent the patient developing full-blown diabetes.

Diabetes is a condition where your blood sugar runs higher than normal and can have a devastating, even deadly, impact on your health.

To find out if you have pre-diabetes, get an A1C blood panel test. It's a simple, quick test that shows your blood sugar level on average for the past three months. Hospitals offer the screenings at health fairs or you can ask for it in your yearly physical.