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What is Prediabetes

Considering the fact that diabetes is increasing at an alarming rate, being aware about what prediabetes is and its clinical signs is necessary for all of us. With correct diagnosis and treatment of prediabetes, one can manage this metabolic disorder effectually.
Ningthoujam Sandhyarani
While prediabetes is not a medical emergency, aggressive treatment is essential to prevent it from further progressing to diabetes and other metabolic complications. Being diagnosed with this condition is an indication that minor heart problems and circulatory system disorders are most likely to get triggered soon. In the year 2007, approximately 57 million Americans above 20 years of age were afflicted with prediabetes.
About Prediabetes
As the name goes, prediabetes is a phase characterized by elevation of blood sugar more than the normal concentration, but not to such an extent that it can be diagnosed as diabetes. In a patient with this condition, the blood sugar reading falls somewhere between the ideal recommended level and the diabetic level. As expected, the patient begins manifesting some symptoms that mimic that of diabetes. Based on the clinical manifestation, prediabetes is medically known by different names such as borderline diabetes, impaired fasting glucose and impaired glucose tolerance.
So, what should be the prediabetes blood sugar level? According to the WHO (World Health Organization), a person is diagnosed with impaired fasting glucose or borderline diabetes, if his/her fasting blood sugar falls between 110 to 125 mg/dL (milligram per deciliter). Also, the glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c) for prediabetic patients ranges from 5.7- 6.4 percent. As far as glucose tolerance test result is concerned, the prediabetes range is 140 to 199 mg/dL. Timely diagnosis is rather a good news, because afflicted people have a good chance to avoid type 2 diabetes with lifestyle intervention.
What Causes Prediabetes?
Actual cause for prediabetes is a combination of genetic factors and lifestyle habits. Upon studies, it is found that some genes for insulin resistance are present in patients with this metabolic disorder. To be on the safer side, people who are overweight and above 45 years should undergo blood works for detecting prediabetes. Needless to mention, the risk factors of prediabetes and type 2 diabetes are similar to each other.
  • Lack of physical activities
  • Poor diet
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Age older than 45 years
  • Getting inadequate sleep
  • Having high blood pressure
  • Having high cholesterol level
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Chronic smoking
  • Family history of type 2 diabetes
Symptoms and Treatment
All of us are already aware about pathophysiology of type 2 diabetes. What happens is, the body secretes insulin as it should, but the body cells and tissues are resistant to this hormone. As a result, they can no longer take up sugar from the bloodstream for fueling purpose. This causes sugar to buildup in the blood, part of which is excreted in the urine. A classic sign is darkened skin spots (acanthosis nigricans) in elbows, armpits, neck, knees and other areas. Listed below are the typical symptoms of this metabolic disorder.
  • Increased weakness
  • Increased thirst (polydipsia)
  • Frequent urination (polyuria)
  • Blurred vision
Due to lack of energy sources for the cells, the patient experiences fatigue very soon. If left without therapeutic intervention, prediabetes blood sugar levels will increase within 10 years or so, resulting in type 2 diabetes. Within this time period, a prediabetic patient has 50% chances to become diabetic. Also, he/she runs the risk for serious complications, like nerve damage, kidney disorder, heart disease and increased excretion of protein in urine. Making lifestyle changes as directed by the doctor is the only solution to control prediabetes.
The prime objectives for restricting progression of prediabetes to diabetes are, consuming a well-planned diet with less sugary foods, participating in physical activities and most importantly, maintaining a healthy weight. If a patient is successful in making these healthy lifestyle modifications, a good prognosis of prediabetes is almost guaranteed. For people having other underlying medical problems or severe risk factors, appropriate treatment medications will be recommended for prompt results. For all cases, following a prediabetes diet is a necessity to avoid complications.
Carbohydrate is another form of sugar and having foods rich in it has a direct impact on the blood sugar level. Hence, for a person with prediabetes, foods to be avoided include sugary items as well as those that contain a high amount of carbohydrates. These two considerations form the basis for prediabetes diet plan. The patient is expected to eat a reduced meal portion at frequent meals, which contain lean meat, less fatty foods and lots of non-starchy vegetables. Last but not least, regular testing of blood sugar is suggested to manage prediabetes effectively.