This sneaky health condition has no symptoms. But it’s almost always present before you get type 2 diabetes. It means your blood sugar level is higher than normal, but not yet high enough for you to be diagnosed with the disease.
About 86 million people in the U.S. over age 20 have prediabetes. And doctors see the need to diagnose it more often. Treating it can prevent more serious health problems later on. These range from type 2 diabetes to problems with your heart, blood vessels, eyes, and kidneys.
By the time you’re diagnosed with diabetes, many of these problems have already taken hold.
Who Gets Type 2 Diabetes?
You’re most likely to get this disease if you:
- Have a family history of type 2 diabetes
- Had gestational diabetes or gave birth to a baby weighing more than 9 pounds
- Have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
- Are African-American, Native American, Latino, or Pacific Islander
- Are overweight or obese, especially around the middle (belly fat)
- Have high cholesterol, high triglycerides, low HDL cholesterol, and a high LDL cholesterol
- Don't exercise
- Are older; people over age 45 are most likely to get it.
You should get tested for prediabetes if you meet the criteria above and you:
- Had an abnormal blood sugar reading in the past
- Have heart disease
- Show signs of insulin resistance, which means your body produces insulin, but doesn't respond to it like it should
What Are the Symptoms?
How Is It Diagnosed?
The fasting plasma glucose test measures your blood sugar after an 8-hour fast. If your blood sugar level is higher than normal after the test, you may have prediabetes.
The oral glucose tolerance test records your blood sugar after a fast and then again 2 hours after you have a very sweet drink. If your blood sugar is higher than normal 2 hours after the test, you may have prediabetes.
The hemoglobin A1c test looks at your average blood sugar for the past 2 to 3 months. It can be used to see if your diabetes is under control or to diagnose the disease.
What's the Treatment?
Treatment for prediabetes is simple:
- Eat a healthy diet and lose weight. Losing 5% to 10% of your weight can make a huge difference.
- Exercise. Choose something that you enjoy, like walking. Try to get at least 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week. You can start with less time and work your way up to a half hour if you need to. Check with your doctor before you do more than that.
- Stop smoking.
- Treat high blood pressure and high cholesterol.