According to the American Diabetes Association, 54 million people living in the U.S. have pre-diabetes.1 Pre-diabetes is a condition where your blood glucose levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be categorized as diabetes. Having pre-diabetes is serious because it can damage other parts of the body, such as the heart and circulatory system. But having pre-diabetes does not mean you will get type 2 diabetes. With certain lifestyle changes, it is possible to reverse the symptoms of pre-diabetes so that your blood sugar levels become normal again.
People with pre-diabetes often have no signs or symptoms of the disease, but it’s still important to consult with your doctor if you experience any unusual conditions such as:
- Increased thirst
- Frequent urination
- Extreme hunger
- Unexplained weight loss
- Blurred vision
- Slow-healing sores or frequent infections2
Additionally, doctors say that women who may have pre-diabetes may also have symptoms such as irregular menstrual cycles, excess facial/body hair, severe acne, and even trouble getting pregnant.3
Certain factors put some people more at risk of having pre-diabetes than others. People who are over 45 years old, have a history of diabetes in their family, are overweight, are inactive, have had gestational diabetes, have high blood pressure, or even are part of certain ethnic groups are more likely to have pre-diabetes. If you have one or more of these risk factors, you may want to schedule a visit with your doctor to see if you have pre-diabetes. Your doctor can perform one of two tests to determine if you have pre-diabetes: the fasting plasma glucose test (FPG) or the oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT). Both tests require you to fast overnight, but the FPG is done first thing in the morning before eating and the OGTT is done both in the morning after the fast and then again 2 hours later after drinking a glucose-rich drink.
The good news is that having pre-diabetes does not mean that you will get type 2 diabetes. Simple lifestyle changes such as eating healthy, getting more physical activity, stopping smoking, treating high blood pressure, and losing 5 to 10% of your body weight can bring your blood sugar level back to normal. Although it is less recommended by doctors, another way to treat pre-diabetes is with medication, such as the drug metformin. But doctors emphasize that the best way to prevent type 2 diabetes is to simply change your lifestyle to a healthier one.
Having pre-diabetes can be as serious as having type 2 diabetes. Consult with your doctor if you believe you have any symptoms or risk factors of pre-diabetes.