What is prediabetes?


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Know the basics

What is prediabetes?

Prediabetes means that your blood sugar level is higher than normal but not yet high enough to be classified as type 2 diabetes. When you have prediabetes, you might not be able to make enough insulin after eating, or your body might not respond to insulin properly.

Without intervention, prediabetes is likely to become type 2 diabetes in 10 years or less. Prediabetes can damage your heart and circulatory system long before diabetes type 2 happens.

How common is prediabetes?

Prediabetes is common. It can be managed by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.

Know the symptoms

What are the symptoms of prediabetes?

In most cases, prediatebetes has no symptoms. If the condition shows symptoms, you might expect:

  • Increased thirst;
  • Frequent urination;
  • Fatigue;
  • Blurred vision.

One common sign that people with prediabete have is changes in skin color. Their skin color tends to darken (acanthosis nigricans), especially around the neck, armpits, elbows, knees and knuckles.

There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.

When should I see my doctor?

You should contact your doctor if you have any of the following:

  • You’re overweight, with a body mass index above 25;
  • You’re inactive;
  • You’re age 45 or older;
  • You have a family history of type 2 diabetes;
  • You’re African-American, Hispanic, American Indian, Asian-American or a Pacific Islander;
  • You developed gestational diabetes when you were pregnant or gave birth to a baby who weighed more than 9 pounds (4.1 kilograms);
  • You have polycystic ovary syndrome – a condition characterized by irregular menstrual periods, excess hair growth and obesity;
  • You have high blood pressure;
  • Your high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol is below 35 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) (0.9 millimoles per liter, or mmol/L) or your triglyceride level is above 250 mg/dL (2.83 mmol/L).

Know the causes

What causes prediabetes?

Scientists have yet to find the cause of prediabetes. However, some suggest that genetics might play a role in increasing your risk factor. This is because of a malfunction in the gene that control insulin processing, causing your body to unable to processing insulin properly. Thus, the insulin level reduce, allowing sugar to build up in your blood stream. Excess fat can also lead to prediabetes.

Know the risk factors

What increases my risk for prediabetes?

There are many risk factors for prediabetes, such as:

  • Weight. Being overweight is a primary risk factor for prediabetes. This includes people whose body mass index is over 35.
  • Waist size. A large waist circumference can indicate insulin resistance.
  • Inactivity. The less active you are, the greater your risk of prediabetes.
  • Age. Although diabetes can develop at any age, the risk of prediabetes increases as you get older, especially after age 45.
  • Family history. The risk of prediabetes increases if a parent or sibling has type 2 diabetes.
  • Race. Although it’s unclear why, people of certain races – including african-americans, hispanics, american indians, asian-americans and pacific islanders – are more likely to develop prediabetes.
  • Gestational diabetes. If you developed gestational diabetes when you were pregnant, your risk of later developing diabetes increases. If you gave birth to a baby who weighed more than 4.1 kilograms, you’re also at increased risk of diabetes.
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome. For women, having polycystic ovary syndrome – a common condition characterized by irregular menstrual periods, excess hair growth and obesity – increases the risk of diabetes.
  • Sleep. Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that causes breathing to be interrupted numerous times during sleep, leading to poor sleep quality. People who work changing shifts or night shifts, possibly causing sleep problems, also may have an increased risk of prediabetes or type 2 diabetes.

Understand the diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

How is prediabetes diagnosed?

Three tests can be used to diagnose prediabetes:

  • A1C test (also called HbA1C, hemoglobin, or glycosylated hemoglobin test). This test measure the percentage of sugar in your blood for 2-3 months. A normal A1C should be below 5.7 percent. An A1C level between 5.7 and 6.4 percent is considered prediabetes. A level of 6.5 percent or higher on two separate tests indicates you have diabetes.
  • Fasting blood glucose test. Your doctor will take a blood sample after you fast (not eating) for a night. A blood sugar level from 100 to 125 mg/dL (5.6 to 6.9 mmol/L) is considered prediabetes.
  • Oral glucose tolerance test. This test will also measure the blood sugar after you fast overnight. After taking this measurement, you will drink a sugar liquid and wait for the sugar to settle in your body. Another blood sugar test will be taken. A blood sugar level from 140 to 199 mg/dL (7.8 to 11.0 mmol/L) is considered prediabetes.

For all of these tests, the higher the number the greater the risk of developing type 2 diabetes in the near future.

How is prediabetes treated?

If you have prediabetes, the first treatment is usually changing your lifestyle. This include changing your diet and taking regular exercise. The two key lifestyle changes that help manage and eliminate prediabetes are regular exercise and weight loss. If you’re overweight, your prediabetes is more likely to turn into diabetes.

If the test result are high but not enough o called diabetes, you might need medication to control your insulin level. One common drug to prediabetes is metformin (Glucophage).

Lifestyle changes & home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage prediabetes?

The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with prediabetes:

  • Stop smoking;
  • Having a safe method to lose weight, even losing 5% of body weight can make a difference;
  • Using herbs to control blood sugar is pretty common in people with prediabetes. Some herbs often used are cassia cinnamon, chromium, coenzyme Q10, ginseng, glucomannan, guar gum, gymnema, magnesium, prickly pear cactus, soy and stevia. Although some of these substances have shown promise in early trials, there’s no definitive evidence that any of these alternative therapies are effective.

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Review Date: May 30, 2016 | Last Modified: January 4, 2017

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