Pre-diabetes, also known as impaired glucose tolerance or impaired fasting glucose, simply means that your blood glucose levels are higher than normal, but not yet high enough to be considered diabetes. It’s important to know if you have pre-diabetes because it gives you and your doctors an indication that there is a problem and that you may be at risk for developing type 2 diabetes. In addition, people with pre-diabetes are at higher risk of cardiovascular disease, so it’s crucial that you take care of the pre-diabetes early on. Not all cases lead to type 2 diabetes, so make sure you manage your glucose levels from the beginning so you can maintain your health and better prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes. It’s also important to know the symptoms and treatment of pre-diabetes so you can catch it early and be better prepared for treatment.
Symptoms and diagnosis
Often, pre-diabetes has no signs or symptoms, but occasionally people will get a darkening of the skin called acanthosis nigricans. It most commonly affects the elbows, neck, armpits, knees and knuckles. If your pre-diabetes is further along, then you may start to get early symptoms of type 2 diabetes which include: increased thirst, frequent urination, blurry vision, fatigue and more. If you start to have any signs of those symptoms then you should contact your doctor to have some labs taken. The tests done to determine if you have pre-diabetes include the fasting plasma glucose test (FPG) or the oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT). They work similarly in the fact that you have to fast overnight for both tests to be done properly. With the FPG, your blood glucose will get tested first thing in the morning before you eat. With the OGTT, your blood glucose will also be test first thing in the morning and then 2 hours after you drink a high glucose drink.
Treatment and Prevention
The treatment for pre-diabetes consists of moderate exercise and maintaining a healthy diet. Losing about 5-10 percent of your total body weight by walking at least 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week will help lessen your risk for developing type 2 diabetes and may even get your blood glucose levels back to normal. Because pre-diabetes increases your risk of cardiovascular disease or stroke, it’s important for you to watch your cholesterol, blood pressure and tobacco use.
Because the symptoms for pre-diabetes are almost non-existent, if you have certain risk factors then you should get checked routinely for pre-diabetes. These risk factors, which are similar to the top risk factors for type 2 diabetes, include:
- If you are over 45 and overweight
- High blood pressure
- Low HDL cholesterol and high triglycerides
- Family history of diabetes
- History of gestational diabetes or giving birth to baby weighing over 9 pounds
- Belonging to an ethnic or minority group at high risk for diabetes