People often wonder if prediabetes is a real condition. Yes, it is. Prediabetes is a warning sign that you have an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes as well as other serious health conditions.
What is Prediabetes?
Prediabetes is a condition in which you have high blood glucose or hemoglobin A1C levels, but these levels are not quite high enough to be classified as type 2 diabetes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that approximately 86 million Americans have prediabetes and three million new cases are diagnosed each year.
While it may not yet be diabetes, you should visualize prediabetes as a crossroad, for better or worse. You can go in one direction and reduce your risk of diabetes, or you can go in another direction and increase your risk by ignoring the diagnosis.
Symptoms and Risk Factors
Many people experience no symptoms of prediabetes. Others feel more fatigued or hungrier and thirstier than usual. Some might gain weight and need to urinate more often. Since you might not have symptoms, it is very important to know and understand your risk factors.
With prediabetes, you have an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke. Other risk factors include age, especially if you are over 45 years old; being overweight or obese; a family history of diabetes; a history of diabetes while pregnant (gestational diabetes) or having given birth to a baby weighing nine pounds or more; and being physically active less than three times a week. Your racial or ethnic background might place you at higher risk for diabetes as well.
However, not everyone with prediabetes will progress to diabetes. Remember the crossroad example? This is where it comes in to play.
Prevention and Management
You can manage prediabetes and possibly prevent it from evolving into type 2 diabetes.
A diabetes prevention program led by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that increased, regular physical activity and modest weight loss can prevent or delay type 2 diabetes and, in some cases, return blood glucose levels to within the normal range.
Regular physical activity equates to at least 150 minutes a week of brisk walking or a similar activity, or just 30 minutes a day of these activities five days a week. Modest weight loss equates to 5 to 7 percent of body weight or just 10 to 14 pounds for a 200-pound person.
There are also certain diets that can help you manage your weight and complement your exercise program.
If you have risk factors for prediabetes, discuss it with your healthcare team. Your doctor can test you and work with you to create a plan to manage this healthcare crossroad, for the better.