Prediabetes occurs when a person’s blood glucose levels are too high, but not yet high enough to be classed as diabetes.
People who develop type 2 diabetes will usually experience prediabetes first. The diagnosis may be alarming news, but this initial condition can be a valuable wake-up call for some – it’s still reversible at this point. It is a chance to take control of their health before reaching any severe consequences.
Here, we aim to empower readers with clear information about prediabetes and the changes you can make before it turns to full-blown diabetes.
What is Prediabetes
Prediabetes is a warning sign of type 2 diabetes which affects two million Australians. It is a disease that occurs when the body does not correctly utilize the insulin hormone or insulin resistance.
Insulin resistance can cause blood glucose levels to rise, leading to prediabetes. Without early treatment and interference, it could progress to type 2 diabetes.
High glucose levels can bring severe damage to blood vessels and nerves. It can also increase the risk of stroke, heart disease, and other medical problems.
There are many contributing factors that apply to both prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. These include excessive weight, poor diet, physical inactivity, smoking, inadequate sleep, old age, medical history, race, and ethnicity.
Other factors contributing to this condition include gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, uncontrolled cholesterol, and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Combining these risk factors is called metabolic syndrome and is associated with insulin resistance.
The good news is that once a person is diagnosed with prediabetes, there are ways to prevent or delay the onset of full-blown diabetes. Lifestyle changes including a healthy diet and regular exercise can help restore a healthy blood glucose level.
Prediabetes in adults may not bring symptoms at all, or the signs of any insulin resistance may be gradual and may go unnoticed for long.
Here are warning signs to look for:
- Increased thirst
- Frequent urination
- Increased hunger
- Fatigue or dizziness
- Unexplained weight loss (even if the person consumes more food)
A doctor may suggest a blood test to diagnose using a fasting blood sugar state.
Fasting blood sugar refers to a state where the person has not consumed anything in the morning. The normal level ranges between 70 and 99 mg per dL, diabetes between 100-125 mg per dL and diabetes higher than 126 mg per dL.
The doctor may recommend an A1C blood test which provides information about a person’s average blood sugar levels over the past three months. The diagnosis will be based on the result, regardless of age. Diabetes Australia says children ten years (and older) and those with any risk factors should begin testing regularly.
Lifestyle Changes to Reverse the Effect of Prediabetes
There are many lifestyle choices that can contribute to reversing prediabetes and preventing its progression to type 2 diabetes. Some of these choices are:
- Maintain a healthy diet (vegetable, fruits, whole grains, protein, non-fat or low-fat dairy)
- Follow an exercise routine (30 minutes of physical activity, three to five times a week)
- Lose excess weight
- Avoid tobacco smoking
- Get your blood pressure and cholesterol under control
- Take doctor-prescribed medications like metformin like Glucophage to lower your blood sugar if you’re at high risk of diabetes.
Often there are no clear symptoms of prediabetes, and many people may be unaware they have it.
High glucose levels left untreated for over a long time can severely damage the heart, eyes, feet, and kidneys. With diabetes, early diagnosis and first aid intervention are critical. With proper care and treatment, people with prediabetes can avoid full-blown diabetes.
First aid for diabetes is more likely for hypoglycemia or hyperglycemia. Learn more about it in a first aid course.