What is Prediabetes?
Prediabetes is a condition in which blood glucose (sugar) levels are higher than normal but not high enough to be classified as diabetes. A person with prediabetes has an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, but with early intervention, it is possible to prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes.
In prediabetes, the body’s cells become less responsive to insulin (a hormone that helps to regulate blood sugar levels). Glucose levels in the bloodstream slowly start to rise, and over time can damage organs and lead to health problems.
Prediabetes is often diagnosed through a blood test called the hemoglobin A1c, which measures the average blood glucose level over the past 3 months. A reading of 5.7% to 6.4% is consistent with prediabetes.
Risk factors for prediabetes include a family history of diabetes, history of gestational diabetes, overweight or obesity, physical inactivity, and high blood pressure or high cholesterol levels.
What Causes Prediabetes?
The exact cause of prediabetes is not fully understood, but it is believed to be the result of a combination of genetic and lifestyle factors.
Some of the factors that can contribute to the development of prediabetes include:
- Insulin resistance: Insulin resistance occurs when the body’s cells become less responsive to insulin, which can cause blood glucose levels to rise.
- Excess weight and physical inactivity: Overweight or obesity and a sedentary lifestyle are associated with insulin resistance and prediabetes.
- Gestational diabetes: Women who develop gestational diabetes during pregnancy have a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life.
- Suboptimal diet: Eating a diet high in processed foods, refined carbohydrates, and added sugars can contribute to insulin resistance and prediabetes.
- Family history: A family history of diabetes or prediabetes can increase the risk
- Age and ethnicity: The risk of developing prediabetes increases with age, and certain ethnic groups. African Americans, Hispanic Americans, and Native Americans have a higher risk than others.
It’s important to note that not everyone with these risk factors will develop prediabetes, and some people may develop prediabetes even without any known risk factors. If you have risk factors for prediabetes, it’s important to talk to your physician about screening and prevention strategies.
Symptoms of Prediabetes
Prediabetes often does not have any symptoms, which is why many people may not realize they have the condition. However, some people with prediabetes may experience the following symptoms:
- Increased thirst
- Frequent urination
- Blurred vision
- Slow-healing wounds or infections
If you have any of these symptoms, it’s important to talk to your physician about getting tested for prediabetes. In many cases, early intervention and lifestyle changes can help to prevent or delay the onset of diabetes.
How does Dr. Kanji treat prediabetes?
Treatment for prediabetes is personalized to each individual’s needs and health status. General goals are to reverse prediabetes and prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes. Types of treatment may include:
- Nutrition and activity: Strategies for improving nutrition and increasing activity are the foundation for treating prediabetes. These changes can improve insulin sensitivity and blood sugar levels.
- Medical weight loss: A personalized medical weight loss program resulting in 5% – 7% body weight loss or more can decrease the risk of progression to type 2 diabetes and potentially reverse prediabetes.
- Medications: In some cases, medications such as metformin may be used to lower blood sugar levels and prevent the progression of prediabetes to type 2 diabetes.
It’s important to work closely with a physician to develop a treatment plan that is tailored to your individual needs and goals. With early intervention and lifestyle changes, it is possible to reverse prediabetes and prevent the onset of diabetes in many cases.
Frequently Asked Questions about Prediabetes
What is the difference between prediabetes and diabetes?
Prediabetes is a condition where blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be diagnosed as type 2 diabetes. The blood sugar and hemoglobin A1c levels are higher to meet the criteria for diabetes.
Can prediabetes be reversed?
Yes. Prediabetes can be reversed in many cases through lifestyle changes such as improving nutrition and increasing physical activity. A simultaneous weight loss of 10% of body weight significantly increases the chance of reversing prediabetes.
Is prediabetes serious?
Yes. Prediabetes is a serious condition that can lead to the development of type 2 diabetes and other health complications if left untreated.
How is prediabetes diagnosed?
Prediabetes is typically diagnosed through a blood test that measures blood glucose levels after fasting for at least 8 hours or a hemoglobin A1c test.
Who is at risk for prediabetes?
People who have a suboptimal diet and/or a sedentary lifestyle, a history of gestational diabetes, a family history of diabetes, and over the age of 45.
Can medication help treat prediabetes?
Yes. Medication may be used as a tool to lower blood sugar levels, prevent the progression of prediabetes to type 2 diabetes, and even for weight loss.
How can I prevent prediabetes?
Improving nutrition and increasing physical activity can help prevent prediabetes. It’s also important to have regular blood glucose screenings if you are at an increased risk for prediabetes.