Prediabetes is a warning sign that you are at risk for getting type 2 diabetes. It means that your blood sugar is higher than it should be, but not high enough to be diabetes. Prediabetes is also called impaired glucose tolerance or impaired fasting glucose. Most people who get type 2 diabetes have prediabetes first.
What causes Prediabetes?
The food you eat turns into sugar, which your body uses for energy. Normally, an organ called the pancreas makes insulin, which allows the sugar in your blood to get into your body’s cells. But when your body can’t use insulin the right way, the sugar doesn’t move into cells. It stays in your blood instead. This is called insulin resistance. The buildup of sugar in the blood causes prediabetes.
People who are overweight, aren’t physically active, and have a family history of diabetes are more likely to get prediabetes. Women who have had gestational diabetes are also more likely to get prediabetes.
What are the Symptoms?
Most people with prediabetes don’t have any symptoms. But if you have prediabetes, you need to watch for signs of diabetes, such as:
- Feeling very thirsty.
- Urinating more often than usual.
- Feeling very hungry.
- Having a blurred vision.
- Losing weight without trying.
How is Prediabetes Diagnosed?
A blood test can tell if you have prediabetes. You have prediabetes if:
- The results of your fasting blood glucose test are between 6.1 to 6.9 millimoles per litre (mmol/L).
- The results of your oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) are 7.8 to 11.0 mmol/L (2 hours after the beginning of the test).
- The results of your hemoglobin A1c test are 6.0% to 6.4%.
How is it treated?
The key to treating prediabetes and preventing type 2 diabetes is getting your blood sugar levels back to a normal range. You can do this by making some lifestyle changes.
- Watch your weight. If you are overweight, losing just a small amount of weight may help. Reducing fat around your waist is particularly important.
- Make healthy food choices. Limit the amount of unhealthy fat you eat, such as saturated fat and trans fat. Try to cut calories and limit sweets.
- Be active. You can do moderate activity, vigorous activity, or both. Bit by bit, increase the amount you do every day. You may want to swim, bike, or do other activities. Walking is an easy way to get exercise. If your doctor says it’s okay, do muscle-strengthening exercises at least 2 times a week.
Making these changes may help delay or prevent diabetes. You may also avoid or delay some of the serious problems that you can get when you have diabetes, such as heart attack, stroke, and heart, eye, nerve, and kidney disease.