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Pre-diabetes symptoms and treatment

> What is Pre-diabetes?

Prediabetes is a condition in which blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be classified as type 2 diabetes. It is also known as impaired fasting glucose, impaired glucose tolerance, and borderline diabetes.

It is a warning sign that a person's body is not processing sugar (glucose) effectively, and that they may be at higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke if lifestyle changes are not made.

A normal blood sugar level post-fasting is below 100; however, if you are pre-diabetic the fasting blood sugar level may be between 100 to 126. If your blood sugar level has surpassed 126, you will be classified as having Type 2 diabetes. This means that your body resists insulin or doesn't produce enough of it to maintain normal blood sugar levels.

When blood sugar levels are high, the body responds by producing insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas that helps regulate blood sugar. Insulin acts as a key to open cells and allows glucose to enter, where it can be used for energy or stored for later use. In people with prediabetes, the body's ability to produce insulin and regulate blood sugar levels is impaired, leading to elevated blood sugar levels. Over time, this can lead to damage to the blood vessels, nerves, and organs, increasing the risk of developing complications. If prediabetes is not treated or managed, it can progress to type 2 diabetes, which can cause more serious health problems.

> What are the symptoms of pre-diabetes?

Prediabetes usually does not cause any noticeable symptoms, so many people do not know they have it. However, some people may experience a few symptoms, such as increased thirst, frequent urination, or blurred vision, but these are not specific to prediabetes and can be caused by other factors as well. The best way to determine if you have prediabetes is to get your blood sugar levels. 

tested for prediabetes

> When should you get tested for prediabetes?

It is recommended that people get tested for prediabetes if they have one or more of the following risk factors:

  • Overweight or obese

  • Inactivity

  • Family history of type 2 diabetes

  • History of gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy)

  • Being 45 years of age or older

  • High blood pressure

  • Low levels of HDL (good) cholesterol and high levels of triglycerides

  • History of cardiovascular disease

  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)

  • Impaired fasting glucose (IFG) or impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) on previous testing

If you have any of these risk factors, it's a good idea to talk to an endocrinologist about getting tested for prediabetes. In general, most people should get tested for prediabetes every three years starting at age 40. However, the frequency of testing may vary based on individual factors such as risk level.

> Treatment for prediabetes
The treatment for prediabetes aims to lower blood sugar levels and reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and its associated complications. The main approach is lifestyle changes, including:

  1. Healthy eating: Following a healthy, balanced diet that is low in added sugars, unhealthy fats, and salt.

  2. Physical activity: Engaging in regular physical activity for at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week.

  3. Weight loss: If overweight or obese, losing weight through diet and exercise can help lower blood sugar levels and reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

  4. Stress management: Managing stress through techniques such as mindfulness, yoga, or deep breathing can help regulate blood sugar levels.

In some cases, medication may be recommended by a healthcare provider to help lower blood sugar levels however, lifestyle changes are the mainstay of treatment for prediabetes. Regular monitoring of blood sugar levels is also important to track progress and adjust treatment as needed.

At A.J hospital we provide a Diabetes Care Programme and Preventive Care Programme at the Diabetes wellness clinic, a dedicated department for diabetic care including consultation with our expert endocrinologists, dietitians, and physiotherapist to maintain your physical well-being.

Ignoring signs of prediabetes can be dangerous, it is important to have regular check-ups with your doctor to monitor your blood sugar levels and track your progress especially if you have any underlying conditions such as hypertension, high cholesterol, or obesity. These precautions are not only for people with prediabetes but also for preventing chronic diseases and overall healthy living.

Consult a doctor near you who may recommend specific treatment or management for those conditions as well.