What is Prediabetes?
Prediabetes means you have a higher than normal blood sugar level. It’s not high enough to be considered type 2 diabetes yet, but without lifestyle changes, adults and children with prediabetes are more likely to develop 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 prediabetes to type 2 diabetes isn’t inevitable.
Symptoms of Prediabetes
Prediabetes doesn’t usually have any signs or symptoms.
One possible sign of prediabetes 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:
- Increased thirst
- Frequent urination
- Excess hunger
- Blurred vision
Causes of prediabetes
The pancreas releases a hormone called insulin when you eat so that the cells of your body can take the sugar from the blood into the cells for energy. That’s how insulin helps lower your blood sugar level. In the case of prediabetes, the cells don’t respond properly to insulin. This is called insulin resistance.
The causes of insulin resistance are unclear. According to the Mayo Clinic, prediabetes is strongly linked to lifestyle factors and genetics.
People who are overweight and sedentary are at an increased risk of prediabetes.
How to treat prediabetes
Treating prediabetes can also be thought of as preventing type 2 diabetes. If your doctor diagnoses you with prediabetes, they’ll recommend certain lifestyle changes. A study called the Diabetes Prevention Program showed a reduction of approximately 58 percent in people who kept up with these changes in the long term.
The most common ways to manage prediabetes are:
- maintaining a diet that’s rich in fiber
- exercising regularly
- losing weight
- taking medication if your doctor prescribed it