Q. What does it mean when you're told that you have prediabetes?
A. Prediabetes is a condition where the blood glucose level (blood sugar level) is higher than normal, but not high enough to be considered diabetes. It is a warning sign, indicating that you could develop type 2 diabetes if you do not make lifestyle changes.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 86 million American adults have prediabetes. This condition also can increase your risk of heart disease and stroke.
Risk factors known to increase the risk of developing prediabetes include:
Inactivity. Physical activity helps you control your weight and makes your cells more sensitive to insulin, a hormone made by the pancreas allowing your body to use sugar.
Family history. The risk of prediabetes increases if a family member has type 2 diabetes.
Weight. The more fatty tissue your body has the more resistant your cells are to insulin, and, therefore, the more difficulty your body will have with processing sugar appropriately.
Gestational diabetes. If you developed gestational diabetes while pregnant, your risk of developing chronic diabetes is greater.
Often, prediabetes does not show signs or symptoms. However, you may experience increased thirst and increased urination as your body tries to get rid of the excess sugar that it cannot process. In addition, you may experience blurred vision and feel tired or run down.
If you are diagnosed with prediabetes, you can cut your risk of getting type 2 diabetes in half by eating a healthier diet and being more active. According to the CDC, without weight loss and moderate physical activity, up to 30 percent of people with prediabetes will develop type 2 diabetes within five years.
With light exercise and a sensible diet, prediabetes is reversible. Get your heart rate up by going for a brisk walk or swim. In addition, the American Diabetes Association recommends integrating weight lifting into your routine twice a week.
To find out if you are on the road to diabetes, speak to your doctor about getting your blood sugar tested.