What Is Prediabetes: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Alternative Treatment

What Is Prediabetes?

Are you aware of a condition known as prediabetes and that more and more people are being diagnosed in this range? So, what is prediabetes?

Prediabetes is a stage that is regarded as an early, yet potentially reversible stage of the development of type-2 diabetes. Prediabetes is also called as impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) or impaired fasting glucose (IFG). It must be mentioned that individuals having prediabetes have a significant risk of developing full blown diabetes. Here, the person’s blood sugar level is slightly more than the normal range, however not high enough to be termed as diabetes and may not have any symptoms of prediabetes. However the good news is that this condition can be reversed with lifestyle measures.

Let us look at the symptoms, causes, tests and treatment of prediabetes.

Symptoms of Prediabetes

Though there are no specific signs and symptoms for prediabetes, it is necessary to monitor the symptoms of type 2 diabetes. However, some of the symptoms of prediabetes include

  • Weight gain
  • Unexplained sudden loss of weight
  • Constant feeling of hunger
  • Slow or delayed healing of wounds, cuts or bruises.
  • Blurred vision.
  • Recurring skin infections.
  • Flu kind symptoms including weakness, tiresomeness, fatigue etc.
  • Loss of feeling in hands or feet.
  • High BMI or body mass index
  • Recurring bladder or vaginal infections.
  • Frequent urination may be one symptom to check.

When To Visit A Doctor?

There are some symptoms of prediabetes you need to note and understand when to visit a doctor.

  • In case you are inactive
  • If you are above 45 years of age
  • If you have a family history of diabetes 2 diabetes.
  • In case you are overweight with a body mass index above 25
  • In case you have high blood pressure.
  • If your HDL or high density lipoprotein cholesterol is below 35 mg/dL

If you have developed gestational diabetes, while you were pregnant or gave birth to a baby weighing more than 9 pounds.

Causes of Prediabetes

While the cause of diabetes is multifactorial, it is worth knowing the causes of prediabetes, so that action can be taken accordingly. Following are some of the commonest causes of prediabetes:

  • Family history of diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Sleep disorders may be a contributing cause of prediabetes
  • Cardiovascular diseases can be one of the causes of prediabetes
  • Obesity or being overweight
  • One more cause of prediabetes can be increased triglyceride levels
  • Women who suffered from gestational diabetes during their pregnancy have chances of prediabetes.

Complications with Prediabetes

Following are some of the possible complications if prediabetes is left untreated; as the condition can lead to type-2 diabetes and the associated complications with it.

  • Blindness
  • Kidney disease
  • Heart disease
  • Amputations
  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Stroke

Tests and Diagnosis of Prediabetes

Let us know about some of test and diagnosis of prediabetes:

#1. Glycated Hemoglobin or A1C Test: This is one blood test that indicates an average blood sugar level for the past 2-3 months and is one of the most popular tests for prediabetes. It works by the fact that it measures the percentage of blood sugar attached to hemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying protein in the RBCs. The higher the blood sugar levels, the more hemoglobin one will have with sugar attached. A normal value is below 5.7 percent, while a value between 5.7 to 6.4 percent is considered as prediabetes. A level of 6.5 percent or more indicates an individual has diabetes.

#2. Fasting Blood Sugar Test: Fasting blood sugar test is one more blood test where a blood sample is taken after the patient fasts for at least 8 hours or fasts overnight. Under such conditions, if the blood sugar level is lower than 100 mg/dL then it is normal. However a blood sugar level ranging from 100 to 125 mg/dL is taken as prediabetes and anything above 126 mg/dL is considered as diabetes mellitus. This is one of the common tests for prediabetes and can be easily performed even at home.

#3. Oral Glucose Tolerance Test: This is a rarely used test for diagnosing prediabetes and diabetes, except during pregnancy. Here, a blood sample is taken after 8 hours or overnight fasting. Then the person undergoing the test is asked to drink a sugary solution and the blood sugar level is measured once again after 2 hours. A blood sugar level below 140 mg/dL is normal. If it is in between 140 to 199 mg/dL it is considered as prediabetes, while if it is 200 mg/dL or higher, then it is possibly diabetes.

Treatments for Prediabetes

Now that we know some of the important tests for prediabetes, it is necessary to know the treatment of prediabetes.

Medications for Treatment Of Prediabetes – There are some prescription medications for people with severe risk factors of developing diabetes from prediabetes. It is important to take these medicines only as medically advised.

Healthy Lifestyle For Treatment Of Prediabetes: The best treatment for prediabetes is to have healthy lifestyle choices including healthy eating, exercising and weight loss which can get your blood sugar level back to normal and help you prevent prediabetes from progressing to diabetes.

Nutrition: Take foods which are low in fat and calories but high in fiber to eat healthy and treat prediabetes. You can add more of fruits, vegetables and whole grains to your regular diet. Go for a variety of food without compromising taste or nutrition. Avoid saturated fats while cooking.

Exercise: Regular exercises can help in maintaining healthy blood sugar levels and thus also treat prediabetes. Intend for at least 30 to 45 minutes of moderate physical activity or exercise most days of the week. Do not skip exercise for more than 2 days in a week. Choose going for a brisk walk, cycling, swimming at least 5 days a week. Resistance training like weight lifting at least 2 days a week can be effective in keeping you fit.

Weight Loss: One of the most important steps in the treatment of prediabetes is lowing some weight. If you are overweight or obese, keep noted that losing about 5-10% of your body weight or 10-20 pounds can reduce the risk of developing diabetes. Focus on exercise, diet and a healthy living habit for weight loss.

Alternative Treatments for Prediabetes

There are many alternative therapies for treating prediabetes. Cassia cinnamon, ginseng, Guar gum, chromium, Gymnema, magnesium, soy, prickly pear cactus are known to treat prediabetes or prevent its progression towards diabetes. However it is essential for you to consult your doctor before taking any kind of herbal or alternative treatment for prediabetes.

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