WHAT IS PREDIABETES AND WHAT CAUSES PREDIABETES?
What is prediabetes and how common is it?
1 in 3 American adults has prediabetes, but only 10 percent of them know they have it. Prediabetes means a person’s blood glucose (sugar) level is higher than normal, but not high enough yet for a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes. People with prediabetes are on the road to developing type 2 diabetes and are also at increased risk for other serious health problems, such as stroke and heart disease. There are some prediabetes risks you can’t control, like age and family history. But there are small things you can do to reduce your risk, such as increasing your physical activity and adjusting your diet. These small, doable actions can also help prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes. There usually aren’t any symptoms when you have prediabetes.
Talk to your doctor to know for sure. A simple blood test can confirm if you have prediabetes.
What causes prediabetes?
To answer that, we first need to define what insulin is. Insulin is a hormone made by your pancreas; it acts like a key to let blood sugar into cells for use as energy. If you have prediabetes, the cells in your body don’t respond normally to insulin. Essentially, your pancreas makes more insulin to try to get the cells to respond. Eventually your pancreas can’t keep up and your blood sugar rises, setting the stage for prediabetes—and type 2 diabetes down the road.
How close is prediabetes to type 2 diabetes?
Without making changes, many people with prediabetes will develop type 2 diabetes. If you have prediabetes, losing a small amount of weight and getting regular physical activity can significantly lower your risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Small changes in diet and exercise can go a long way. Studies show that losing just 5-7 percent of your body weight can help prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes. (For a person who weighs 200 pounds, that’s just about 10-15 pounds.) Evidence shows that the National Diabetes Prevention Program is a very effective way to reverse prediabetes.
To discover more prediabetes risk factors, click here.
COULD I HAVE PREDIABETES?
Who is most at risk for prediabetes and type 2 diabetes?
If any of these apply to you, you’re at risk for prediabetes and type 2 diabetes:
- I have a family history of diabetes
- I am over age 40
- I am overweight
- I have a history of gestational diabetes, diabetes or high blood sugar when pregnant
- I have high blood pressure
- I am Hispanic, African American, Asian, or Native American
I got a high score on the online risk test. Do I have prediabetes?
A high score on the online risk test means you likely have prediabetes. But only a blood test can tell you for sure, so talk to your doctor. Your doctor will do a simple blood test to check your blood sugar levels. If those levels are higher than normal, but not high enough yet to indicate type 2 diabetes, it means you do have prediabetes. But here’s the good news: with early diagnosis, prediabetes can often be reversed.
What are the symptoms and signs of prediabetes?
There aren’t usually signs or symptoms when you have prediabetes. You can have prediabetes for years but have no clear symptoms, so prediabetes often goes undetected until serious health problems such as type 2 diabetes show up. All the more reason to take the online risk test and talk about it with your doctor.
What is the prediabetes blood sugar number?
Your doctor will know best when diagnosing prediabetes. Typically, prediabetes is when your A1C level is between 5.7 and 6.4 percent. (Above 6.4 is considered diabetes.) Prediabetes can also be diagnosed with a fasting blood sugar test. A result between 100 and 125 mg/dL is considered prediabetes (above 125 mg/dL is considered diabetes), and an oral glucose tolerance test 2-hour result between 140 and 199 mg/dL is considered prediabetes (above 199 mg/dL is considered diabetes).
Does my doctor screen for prediabetes in my annual physical exam?
Not necessarily. It’s not guaranteed that your doctor is screening for prediabetes during your annual physical. If you have risk factors for prediabetes or type 2 diabetes, be sure to ask your doctor to include the test as part of your exam and discuss the results.
Interested in getting tested for prediabetes? Here’s a breakdown of everything you need to know.
PREVENTING TYPE 2
How can I reverse prediabetes?
With early diagnosis, prediabetes can often be reversed. It just takes making doable changes like eating healthier, getting exercise, and figuring out the best ways to manage stress and cope with real-life challenges. The in-person or virtual support available through the CDC-recognized National Diabetes Prevention Program can help you make those changes—and make them stick.
What changes should I make in terms of diet and exercise?
First, talk with your doctor or medical professional. He or she will be able to connect you with the National Diabetes Prevention Program or other nutritional help, which will set you on the right path. You’ll learn how to prioritize certain foods over others. Also, know that increasing your physical activity helps tremendously. There are many ways to increase your physical activity that can also be a lot of fun, like taking dance lessons, going on a long walk with a friend, or joining a class at the gym.
What’s the best way to reverse prediabetes?
If you have prediabetes, losing a small amount of weight if you’re overweight and getting regular physical activity can help reverse prediabetes and lower your risk for developing type 2 diabetes. A small amount of weight loss means around 5 to 7 percent of your body weight (about 10 to 14 pounds for a 200-pound person). Regular physical activity means getting at least 150 minutes a week (that’s just 30 minutes a day, five days a week) of brisk walking or a similar activity. A lifestyle-change program offered through the CDC-led National Diabetes Prevention Program can help you make those changes—and make them stick. Through the yearlong program, you can lower your risk of developing type 2 diabetes by more than 50 percent.
What is the treatment for prediabetes?
Your doctor will recommend a treatment plan for prediabetes to help prevent type 2 diabetes. Your doctor may also refer you to the CDC’s National Diabetes Prevention Program for coaching on how to make healthy changes. This might include moderate weight loss, changes to eating habits, and more exercise.
Not sure what reversing prediabetes might look like for you? Hear testimonials from participants in the National Diabetes Prevention Program about what worked for them.
FIND A NATIONAL
PROGRAM NEAR YOU
With early diagnosis, prediabetes can often be reversed. By joining a National Diabetes Prevention Program (NDPP), you’ll learn how to make simple changes to help reverse prediabetes and prevent type 2 diabetes. Find an online or in-person program below.