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You have been diagnosed with prediabetes. This means that the level of sugar (glucose) in your blood is too high. If you have prediabetes, you are at risk for type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is when the level of glucose in the blood reaches a certain high level. With prediabetes, it hasn’t reached this point yet, but it is still higher than normal. It is vital to make lifestyle changes to lower your blood sugar, improve your health, and prevent diabetes. 

Why Worry About Prediabetes?

Prediabetes is a disease where the body’s cells have trouble using glucose in the blood for energy. As a result, too much glucose stays in the blood and can affect how your heart and blood vessels work. Without changes in diet and lifestyle, the problem can get worse. Once you have type 2 diabetes, it is ongoing (chronic) and needs to be managed for the rest of your life. Diabetes can harm the body and your health by damaging organs, such as your eyes and kidneys. It makes you more likely to have heart disease. And it can damage nerves and blood vessels.

Who Is at Risk for Prediabetes?

The exact cause of prediabetes is not clear. But certain risk factors make a person more likely to have it. These include:

  • A family history of type 2 diabetes

  • Being overweight

  • Being ages 40 and older

  • Having had gestational diabetes or large babies over 9 lbs.

  • Not being physically active

  • Being African American, American Indian, Asian American, Hispanic, or Pacific Islander

Diagnosing Prediabetes

Prediabetes has no symptoms. The only way to find it is with a blood test. You may have had one or both of these blood tests:

  • Fasting glucose test. Blood is taken and tested after you have not eaten (fasted) for at least 8 hours. A normal test result is 99 mg/dL or lower. Prediabetes is 100 mg/dL to 125 mg/dL. Diabetes is 126 mg/dL or higher on two tests.

  • Glucose tolerance test. Your blood sugar is measured before and after you drink a very sugary liquid. A normal test result is 139 mg/dL or lower. Prediabetes is 140 mg/dL to 199 mg/dL. Diabetes is 200 mg/dL or higher.

  • Hemoglobin A1C (HbA1C).  A1Cs below 5.7% are considered normal. Diabetes is diagnosed when two A1C results are greater than or equal to 6.5%. However, the A1C test results can vary among labs and between tests. The relationship of A1C to fasting blood glucose may differ among racial groups. Therefore, your healthcare provider may recommend a fasting blood sugar to confirm a diagnosis based upon A1C results.  

Treating Prediabetes

The best way to treat prediabetes is to lose at least 5% to 7% of your current weight and be more physically active. You should get at least 30 minutes of exercise 5 days a week. These changes help the body’s cells use blood sugar better. Even a small amount of weight loss can help. Work with your healthcare provider to make a plan to eat well and be more active. Keep in mind that small changes can add up. Other changes in your lifestyle may make you less likely to develop diabetes. Your healthcare provider can talk with you about these.

If it is untreated, prediabetes can turn into diabetes. This is a serious health condition. Take steps to stop this from happening. Follow the treatment plan you have been given. You may have your blood glucose tested again in about 12 to 18 months.

Symptoms of Diabetes

Most people do not have symptoms. But let your healthcare provider know if you have any of the following:

  • Always feel very tired

  • Feel very thirsty or hungry much of the time

  • Have to urinate often

  • Lose weight for no reason

  • Feel numbness or tingling in your fingers or toes

  • Have cuts or bruises that don’t seem to heal

  • Have blurry vision

Author: StayWell Custom Communications
Last Annual Review Date: 4/1/2016
Copyright © The StayWell Company, LLC. except where otherwise noted.
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