Prediabetes is a condition in which blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes.

It is a significant risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes and other chronic health conditions, such as heart disease and stroke.

Prediabetes is often detected during routine blood tests, and it can be managed through lifestyle changes such as eating healthy diet, exercising regularly and maintaining healthy weight.

If left untreated, it can progress to type 2 diabetes. Therefore, it is important to take steps to reduce the risk of developing this condition.

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Prediabetes typically does not provoke any characteristic signs or symptoms.

However, darkened skin in specific locations such as the neck, armpits and groin may be a pointer of prediabetes.

Transitioning from prediabetes to type 2 diabetes is usually accompanied by the classic signs and symptoms, such as:

  • Excessive thirst and frequent urination
  • Fatigue and increased hunger
  • Blurred vision
  • Slow healing of cuts and bruises
  • Increased risk of infections
  • Numbness or tingling in the hands or feet
  • Dark patches of skin on the neck, elbows, armpits and groin
  • Unusual weight gain
  • Skin tags

These are typical signs of symptoms of type 2 diabetes. If you are experiencing any of these, it might be an indication that you have already moved to type 2 diabetes.

Your doctor can help you determine if you have prediabetes and work with you to develop a treatment plan for you.

Causes and Risk Factors


There are two important causes that point to prediabetes. They are:

Insulin resistance is when your body does not respond to the hormone insulin, leading to high levels of glucose in the blood.

This can be further compounded by metabolic disorders, which is caused by hyperglycemia and insulin resistance.

Risk Factors

There are a number of risk factots of prediabetes, such as:

Being overweight or obese: Excess body fat increases the risk of the condition.

Physical inactivity: People who don’t get enough exercise are more likely to develop the condition.

Poor diet: Eating too many processed and sugary foods can increase the risk of the condition.

Ethnicity: People of certain ethnic backgrounds (Black, Hispanic, Asian American people and American Indian) are more likely to develop the condition.

Age: The risk of prediabetes increases with age, especially after 35.

Smoking: Smoking can greatly increase your risk of developing the condition.

Family history: If a family member has type 2 diabetes, you have a greater chance of developing prediabetes.

Medical conditions: Certain medical conditions gestational diabetes, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), high blood pressure, high cholesterol and sleep apnea can lead to the condition.

Certain medications: Some medications, such as steroids, can increase the risk of insulin resistance, and thereby prediabetes.

If you think you are at risk, speak to your doctor about lifestyle changes and treatment options that can help you manage your condition.


Prediabetes is a warning sign that diabetes may develop in the future. There are a few different ways to diagnose the condition, and it is important to get yourself checked for it regularly.

A1C Test

An A1C test is a blood test that measures the average amount of glucose in the blood over a period of three months. It is typically used to diagnose and monitor diabetes. Fasting is not required for this test.

The A1C test measures the amount of glucose that has been attached to hemoglobin, which is a protein found in red blood cells. The higher the level of glucose attached to hemoglobin, the higher the A1C level.

According to the American Diabetes Association, a normal A1C level is below 5.7%. A level between 5.7 and 6.4% indicates prediabetes, while anything higher than 6.4% indicates diabetes.

It is important to note that these levels may vary depending on age and other factors, so it’s best to speak to your doctor to determine what is considered a healthy A1C level for you.

Fasting Plasma Glucose Test

The Fasting Plasma Glucose Test (FPG) is a diagnostic test used to detect diabetes or prediabetes. It measures the amount of glucose (sugar) in the blood after an 8 to 10 hour period of fasting.

A normal fasting glucose level is between 70 and 100 mg/dL. A level between 100 and 125 mg/dL is considered prediabetes, while a result of 126 mg/dL or higher is considered to be diabetes.

The FPG test is an important tool for diagnosing and managing diabetes. It can help identify those at risk for diabetes and allow for early intervention, which can help prevent the onset of long-term complications. It is also helpful for monitoring the effectiveness of treatments, such as lifestyle modification or medications, in managing diabetes.

If you are concerned about your blood glucose levels, talk to your doctor about getting an FPG test.

Oral Glucose Tolerance Test

An Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT) is a diagnostic test used to measure how well your body is able to process glucose. An overnight fasting is required for this test.

The test involves drinking a sweet liquid containing glucose and then having blood samples taken at intervals over the next two hours. The results of the OGTT are measured in terms of glucose levels in the blood.

Generally speaking, a normal OGTT result should be below 140 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL).

If the result is between 140 and 199 mg/dL, it may indicate impaired glucose tolerance or prediabetes. If the result is 200 mg/dL or higher, it may indicate diabetes.

It is important to talk to a doctor if you have an abnormal OGTT result, as further testing and treatment may be necessary.

Treatment and Management

Here are some of the most common treatments for prediabetes, which are only to prevent type 2 diabetes from developing.

Diet and exercise: Eating healthy diet and getting regular exercise can help reduce blood sugar levels and decrease your risk of developing diabetes.

Medication: Your doctor may prescribe medications such as metformin to help control your blood sugar levels.

Lifestyle changes: Quitting smoking, reducing alcohol consumption, managing stress levels and getting adequate sleep can help reduce your risk of developing diabetes.

Insulin therapy: According to clinical trials, insulin therapy may be recommended for people with prediabetes who are at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Making lifestyle changes and following your doctor’s instructions can go a long way in helping prevent the onset of diabetes.

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Complications of Prediabetes

Prediabetes, if not treated in time, can lead to a number of serious complications. Here are some of the potential complications of the condition:

  • Increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes
  • Heart attack, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases
  • Fatty liver disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Nerve damage
  • Eye damage
  • Neuropathy
  • Skin conditions
  • Alzheimer’s disease

It is important to both monitor and manage your condition, if you’re already pre-diabetic.

The happy news is that prediabetes is reversible, provided you take the necessary steps.

Is Prediabetes Preventable?

Yes, it is highly preventable.

It can often be prevented by making simple lifestyle changes, such as eating healthy diet, exercising regularly and maintaining healthy weight.

Eating a balanced diet that is low in saturated fat, refined carbohydrates and sugar can help reduce the risk of the condition.

Consuming fewer calories and avoiding sugary drinks can also help lower the risk of prediabetes.

Regular physical activity is also important; aim for at least 30 minutes of moderately intense activity most days of your week.

Also, quitting smoking and managing stress can also help reduce the risk of developing the condition.

Prediabetes – Bottomline

Prediabetes is a serious condition, but you can very well manage it in order to prevent the subsequent development of type 2 diabetes.

By understanding your risk factors and making lifestyle changes, you can stay in control of your health and reduce your risk of developing diabetes.


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Sources: Mayo Clinic, CDC, Healthline, Cleveland Clinic, American Diabetes Association, Medscape, NCBI (1, 2), Endocrine Society.