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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 disease.

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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