Written on December 13, 2022 by Theresa Vuskovich, DMD. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.
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Did you know 1 in 3 Americans has prediabetes ? You may not even realize you have prediabetes, which is characterized by high blood sugar levels, but not high enough to qualify for type 2 diabetes . When you have prediabetes, you can develop type 2 diabetes, which can cause nerve problems, kidney problems, and heart disease . This article will discuss prediabetes, how to recognize prediabetes, and how to prevent the progression of prediabetes to type 2 diabetes.
You can determine whether you have prediabetes by checking your blood sugar levels through a blood test such as an A1C test, fasting plasma glucose (FPG) test, or glucose tolerance test (GTT) . There are no obvious symptoms of prediabetes, so it often goes undetected. The only way to know if you have prediabetes is to consult with a healthcare provider.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Diabetes Association (ADA) offer a prediabetes screening test to determine your risk for diabetes [3,4]. You are more likely to receive a prediabetes diagnosis if you answer yes to five of the following questions [3,4]:
The ADA now recommends screening everyone 35 years and older for prediabetes due to the rising rate of prediabetes and the lack of obvious prediabetes symptoms [4,5]. Prediabetes can cause the following symptoms :
If you are at risk of prediabetes based on the risk assessment test and are experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, then you may have prediabetes. However, you must visit your healthcare provider to receive a prediabetes diagnosis.
Your healthcare provider will diagnose you with prediabetes through a series of blood tests, which are the same tests used to diagnose type 2 diabetes . It is important to recognize that prediabetes is not a specific disease but rather a risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes and heart disease in the future . Essentially, it is your body's way of telling you to change your lifestyle to prevent type 2 diabetes, which is more difficult to reverse than prediabetes . Your healthcare provider may order the following diabetes blood tests to diagnose prediabetes [4-7]:
Your healthcare provider will determine if you have prediabetes based on your blood test results and a physical examination . The ADA and other health organizations, such as the World Health Organization (WHO), have different criteria for diagnosing prediabetes . Your diagnosis of prediabetes will depend on which guidelines your healthcare provider follows . Detecting prediabetes early is essential for preventing the progression of prediabetes to type 2 diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes occurs when your body cannot produce adequate insulin to remove sugar from your blood . Type 2 diabetes can increase your chances of a stroke, heart disease, vision problems, and chronic kidney disease . When you have prediabetes, you are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes and its complications . According to a recent study, 57.5% of women and 46.1% of men with prediabetes will develop type 2 diabetes . Simple lifestyle changes can help you prevent prediabetes from progressing into type 2 diabetes.
If you want to reverse prediabetes, adding healthy foods to your diet, exercising regularly, and maintaining a healthy weight are important . Eating less processed foods and avoiding sugar-sweetened beverages are easy ways to reduce the amount of sugar you consume daily. You can improve your diet by adding more fruits and vegetables and healthy fats such as olive oil and nuts.
The Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) trial results guide healthcare providers' recommendations for lifestyle interventions . The DPP lifestyle intervention recommends losing approximately 7% of your body weight and exercising 150 minutes hour per week to reduce your chances of developing type 2 diabetes . Depending on your health status, your healthcare provider will determine how much bodyweight you can safely lose and the best exercise routine for you. Your preexisting health conditions, age, sex, and commitment to lifestyle changes will determine how long it takes to reverse prediabetes. You can easily monitor your progress with at-home A1C tests.