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Prediabetes is a serious medical condition and a clear warning
sign that type 2 diabetes might become a part of your life if you do not take
preventive measures to avert or postpone the disease. Prediabetes means that your
blood glucose (blood sugar) level is higher than normal, but not high enough
for type 2 diabetes. Having type 2 diabetes means that the cells in your body
are unable to normally absorb insulin and your body becomes insulin resistant.
Insulin is a hormone produced by pancreas that your body needs to help glucose
(sugar) get from your blood into your body’s cells to make energy. If not
enough glucose gets from your blood into your body’s cells, the cells cannot
produce enough energy for proper functioning.
Symptoms of diabetes usually develop over the course of
several years and people with prediabetes condition may have no clear symptoms
at all. However, risk factors that may contribute to developing prediabetes are
the same as the ones for type 2 diabetes. Those risk factors include: having
family history of diabetes, having little or no physical activity, being
overweight or obese, having a history of heart disease or stroke, being a
smoker, having high blood pressure, having obstructive sleep apnea, being 45
years of age or older, having a high level of triglycerides or a low level of
“good” (HDL) cholesterol, having polycystic ovary syndrome, and having a
history of gestational diabetes.
If you have one or several of these risk factors, you should
discuss them with your doctor and get necessary tests done to determine your
condition. The doctor may suggest to test your blood sugar level, which is a
good practice to do every three years if you are 45 years of age or older,
since the risk of developing prediabetes and, subsequently, type 2 diabetes
rises as you get older. There are two tests either of which, or both, your
doctor may perform to diagnose your condition: Fasting plasma glucose test
(FPG) that is taken in the morning, after overnight fasting (for at least 8 hours) and Oral
glucose tolerance test (OGTT) that is also done after 8 hours of fasting, after
which blood sugar is measured two hours after you drink 75 grams of glucose.
It is in your best interest to have your blood sugar tested
early instead of waiting for any symptoms to appear because unlike type 2 diabetes,
prediabetes is reversible. However, if kept untreated, prediabetes can develop
into type 2 diabetes that may lead to very serious complications, such as nerve
damage (neuropathy), kidney damage (nephropathy), heart disease, stroke, feet
damage that can cause amputation, eye damage, skin infections, and Alzheimer’s
By successfully treating prediabetes, you are
closing the door for type 2 diabetes to enter your life. However, you will have
to go through some long-term lifestyle changes to succeed in avoiding type 2
diabetes. You have to reassess your diet, including in it more protein and
fiber, while avoiding processed foods, refined carbohydrates, and saturated
fat. You will need to incorporate exercise in your daily routine because your
body utilizes more glucose when you exercise, naturally lowering your blood
sugar. You should also consider losing a few pounds if you are overweight. And
if you have been diagnosed with prediabetes and there is a concern that your
chance of developing type 2 diabetes is very high, your doctor might recommend
you to take a diabetes prevention medication, metformin, that will help your
body maintaining better blood glucose level by keeping your liver from producing
more glucose than you need.
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