Prediabetes is a health condition in which blood glucose is higher than normal but not high enough to diagnose diabetes. Without lifestyle measures or medical intervention, prediabetes can turn into type 2 diabetes. People with prediabetes are at a higher risk of health problems such as heart disease and stroke. Progression from Prediabetes to type 2 diabetes isn’t inevitable.
Prediabetes usually has no signs or symptoms. Some people with prediabetes may notice dark velvety patches in body folds and creases. Most often pre diabetes goes undetected until any other health problem arises. But the progression from prediabetes to type 2 diabetes shows symptoms such as:
Increased thirst and hunger
Fatigue and blurred vision
Numbness in hands and feet
Unintentional weight loss
Frequent weight loss
Weakness and tiredness
Blood glucose in our body is controlled by Insulin; a hormone produced by the pancreas. Insulin allows the glucose to enter the cells and lowers the amount of glucose in the blood. In prediabetes this process does not work well due to which glucose instead of fuelling the cells glucose remains in the blood.
This happens because
The pancreas may not produce enough insulin (insulin deficiency)
Cells become resistant to insulin and do not allow the glucose in ( insulin resistance)
There are several tests available to check the blood glucose level to identify prediabetes. The tests include:
Glycated Haemoglobin (A1C) Test
This test indicates the average blood glucose level of a person for the past 3 months. The test results below 5.7% are normal, between 5.7% to 6.4% indicates prediabetes, 6.5 and above indicates diabetes.
Blood Glucose Test
A blood sample is collected after 8 hours on an empty stomach. The test shows glucose value in terms of mill moles of glucose per litre (mmol/L) or milligrams of glucose per decilitre (mg/dL) of blood. A value less than 100 mg/dL is normal, 100 to 125 mg/dL indicates prediabetes, 126 mg/dL or more indicates diabetes.
Oral Glucose Tolerance Test
This test is mostly used during pregnancy. A person needs to fast overnight and drink sugary liquid given at the lab before the test. The blood glucose level is tested periodically for 2 hours. Value of less than 140 mg/dL is normal, between 140 to 199 mg/dL indicates prediabetes, 200 mg/dL and above indicates diabetes.
A healthy lifestyle and eating choices can help to control the blood sugar level and may bring it back to normal. Also, help to stop from rising to type 2 diabetes. There is no clear prediabetes treatment, oral medications, insulin shots and lifestyle changes act.
Consume Healthy Food: A balanced food intake of fruits, vegetables, lean protein, healthy fats like nuts seeds vegetable oils, whole pulses and whole grains reduces the risk of prediabetes. Choose food that is low in simple sugars, fats and high in fibre. Healthy food can prevent blood glucose levels from rising.
Exercise and Activity: Physical activity and exercise use glucose for energy also help the body to use insulin more effectively.
Quit Smoking: Quitting smoking can help the insulin to work more efficiently.
Medications: The doctor may recommend medication such as metformin, to reduce the risk of diabetes. Medications to control high blood pressure and cholesterol can also be given.
Prediabetes is a common health condition occurring in 1 out of 3 adults. It can easily turn into type 2 diabetes. The factors that increase the risk for prediabetes type 2 diabetes include:
Overweight:Obesity is the primary risk factor that increases the risk for diabetes. With more fatty tissue in the body, the cells become resistant to insulin.
Diet: Consumption of red meat and processed meat, aerated drinks, unhealthy fats, high intake of sweets/simple carbohydrates increases the risk for diabetes.
Waist size: Having a larger waist size or more fat around the waist can increase the risk of prediabetes.
Race: Few races are at higher risk of developing prediabetes including African American, Native Hawaiian, Hispanic/Latino American, Alaska Native, American Indian, or Pacific Islander.
Physical inactivity: Sedentary lifestyle can increase the risk for prediabetes.
Age: Diabetes can develop at any age, but it commonly occurs after age 45
Family history: Family history of diabetes, such as parents and siblings with diabetes shows genetic factors, increasing the risk for prediabetes.
Healthy lifestyle choices can help to prevent prediabetes and its progression into type 2 diabetes. Taking precautions such as eating healthy food, exercising, maintaining weight, controlling pressure and alcohol by reducing certain food intake, and quitting smoking.
Diabetes can be easily controlled with precautions and few life changes. Often there are no visible symptoms, making it difficult to diagnose pre-diabetes. If not controlled, it can lead to type 2 diabetes.