Prediabetes means that your blood sugar level is higher than normal but not yet high enough to be type 2 diabetes. Without lifestyle changes, people with prediabetes are very likely to progress to type 2 diabetes. If you have prediabetes, the long-term damage of diabetes especially to your heart, blood vessels and kidneys may already be starting.
There’s good news, however. Progression from pre diabetes to type 2 diabetes isn’t inevitable. Eating healthy foods, incorporating physical activity in your daily routine and maintaining a healthy weight can help bring your blood sugar level back to normal.
Prediabetes affects adults and children. The same lifestyle changes that can help prevent progression to diabetes in adults might also help bring children’s blood sugar levels back to normal.
Prediabetes generally has no signs or symptoms.
One possible sign that you may be at risk of type 2 diabetes is darkened skin on certain parts of the body.
Affected areas can include the neck, armpits, elbows, knees and knuckles.
Classic signs and symptoms that suggest you’ve moved from prediabetes to type 2 diabetes include:
- you’re hungrier than normal
- you’re losing weight, despite eating more
- you’re thirstier than normal
- you have to go to the bathroom more frequently
- you’re more tired than usual
- blurred vision
Research indicates that prediabetes is often associated with unrecognized heart attacks and can damage your kidneys, even if you haven’t progressed to type 2 diabetes.
The same factors that increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes increase the risk of developing prediabetes. These factors include:
- Weight. Being overweight is a primary risk factor for prediabetes. The more fatty tissue you have especially inside and between the muscle and skin around your abdomen the more resistant your cells become to insulin.
- Dietary patterns. Eating red meat and processed meat, and drinking sugar-sweetened beverages, is associated with a higher risk of prediabetes.
- Inactivity. The less active you are, the greater your risk of prediabetes. Physical activity helps you control your weight, uses up glucose as energy and makes your cells more sensitive to insulin.
- Age. Although diabetes can develop at any age, the risk of prediabetes increases after age 45. This may be because people tend to exercise less, lose muscle mass and gain weight as they age.
- Family history. Your risk of prediabetes increases if you have a parent or sibling with type 2 diabetes.
- Gestational diabetes. If you developed gestational diabetes while pregnant, you and your child are at higher risk of developing prediabetes.
- Polycystic ovary syndrome. This common condition characterized by irregular menstrual periods, excess hair growth and obesity increases women’s risk of prediabetes.
- Sleep. People with a certain sleep disorder have an increased risk of insulin resistance. People who work changing shifts or night shifts, possibly causing sleep problems, also may have an increased risk of prediabetes or type 2 diabetes.
Diagnosis of Diabetes:
There are several blood tests for diagnosis of prediabetes.
- Glycated hemoglobin (A1C) test
- Fasting blood sugar test
- Oral glucose tolerance test
Prevention of progression of Prediabetes to Diabetes
Healthy lifestyle choices can help you bring your blood sugar level back to normal, or at least keep it from rising toward the levels seen in type 2 diabetes.
To prevent prediabetes from progressing to type 2 diabetes, try to:
- Eat healthy foods. Choose foods low in fat and calories and high in fiber. Focus on fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Strive for variety to help you achieve your goals without compromising taste or nutrition.
- Be more active. Aim for 30 to 60 minutes of moderate physical activity most days of the week.
- Lose excess weight. If you’re overweight, losing just 5 to 10 percent of your body weight, i.e only 10 to 20 pounds (4.5 to 9 kilograms) if you weigh 200 pounds (91 kilograms) can reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. To keep your weight in a healthy range, focus on permanent changes to your eating and exercise habits. Motivate yourself by remembering the benefits of losing weight, such as a healthier heart, more energy and improved self-esteem.
- Stop smoking.
Children and prediabetes treatment
Children with prediabetes should undertake the lifestyle changes recommended for adults with type 2 diabetes, including:
- Losing weight
- Eating fewer refined carbohydrates and fats, and more fiber
- Spending at least one hour every day in physical activity