What is Prediabetes?

Prediabetes is a warning sign that you are at risk for developing 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 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.

Signs & Symptoms of Prediabetes

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 blurry vision
  • Losing weight without trying

Diagnosing Prediabetes

A blood test can tell if you have prediabetes. You have prediabetes if:

  • The results of your hemoglobin A1c test are 5.7% to 6.4%.
  • The results of your fasting blood glucose test are between 100 and 125 milligrams per deciliter.
  • The results of your oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) are 140 to 199 mg/dL (2 hours after the beginning of the test).

Treating & Managing Prediabetes

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 activityvigorous 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.

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.

You may need to take a diabetes medicine called metformin. It reduces the amount of sugar made by the liver in people who are insulin-resistant.

Can Prediabetes Be Prevented?

Staying at a healthy weight, eating healthy foods, and getting regular exercise can help prevent prediabetes. If you are having symptoms or have a family history of diabetes, see your Mercy doctor. We can help you develop a plan to keep you healthy and enjoying life to the fullest.  

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