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What is prediabetes?

Prediabetes is a blood glucose level that is higher than normal. It is not high enough to be considered diabetes. Prediabetes increases your risk for type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

What increases my risk for prediabetes?

  • Overweight or obesity
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Older age
  • Family history of diabetes (parent or sibling)
  • A history of heart disease, gestational diabetes, or polycystic ovary syndrome
  • High blood pressure or cholesterol levels that are not normal
  • Being African American, Latino, Native American, Asian American, or Pacific Islander

What are the symptoms of prediabetes?

Prediabetes may not cause any symptoms. You may be at risk for diabetes if you have darkened skin on your neck, armpits, and elbows. Any of the following symptoms mean you have moved from prediabetes to diabetes type 2:

  • More hunger or thirst than usual
  • Frequent urination
  • Constant exhaustion
  • Blurred vision

How is prediabetes diagnosed?

You may need any of the following tests to check for prediabetes starting at age 45:

  • An A1c test shows the average amount of sugar in your blood over the past 2 to 3 months.
  • A fasting plasma glucose test is when your blood sugar level is tested after you have not eaten for 8 hours.
  • A 2-hour plasma glucose test starts with a blood sugar level check after you have not eaten for 8 hours. You are then given a glucose drink. Your blood sugar level is checked after 2 hours.

How do I prevent or delay prediabetes from becoming type 2 diabetes?

Healthy choices work best to delay or prevent type 2 diabetes. You can decrease your risk for type 2 diabetes by choosing the following:

  • Exercise regularly. Exercise can help decrease your blood sugar level. It can also help to decrease your risk for heart disease and help you lose weight. Adults should exercise for at least 150 minutes every week. Spread this amount of exercise over at least 3 days a week. Do not skip exercise more than 2 days in a row. Children should exercise for at least 60 minutes on most days of the week. Examples of exercise include walking or swimming. Do not sit for longer than 30 minutes. Work with your healthcare provider to create an exercise plan.
  • Lose weight if you are overweight. A weight loss of 7% of your body weight can help to lower your blood sugar level. Your healthcare provider can tell you what weight is healthy for you. He or she can help you create a weight loss plan.
  • Eat healthy foods. Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables, and eat whole-grain foods more often. Choose dairy foods, meat, and other protein foods that are low in fat. Eat fewer sweets such as candy, cookies, regular soda, and sweetened drinks. You can also decrease calories by eating smaller portion sizes. Work with your healthcare provider or dietitian to develop a meal plan that is right for you.
  • Take medicine as directed. Your healthcare provider may give diabetes medicine if you are at high risk for diabetes. You may also need medicines for high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

What else can I do to manage my health?

  • Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed. You will need to return every year to get tested for diabetes.
  • Do not smoke. Nicotine can damage blood vessels. Other health conditions, such as lung disease can happen when you smoke. Do not use e-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco in place of cigarettes or to help you quit. They still contain nicotine. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you currently smoke and need help quitting.

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

  • You have more hunger or thirst than usual.
  • You are urinating more frequently than normal.
  • You are always exhausted.
  • You have blurred vision.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Ā© Copyright IBM Corporation 2018 Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotesĀ® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or IBM Watson Health

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

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