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Decoding Prediabetes: Symptoms, Risk Factors & Treatment

A warning is something that makes us aware of a possible danger. Similarly, prediabetes or borderline diabetes is a warning or wake-up call that you are on the path to Type-2 diabetes. This is why the term has “pre” meaning it is a pre-diagnosis of diabetes.

In this article, we tell you everything you should know about prediabetes, including its symptoms, risk and cause factors, and the treatment.

What is Prediabetes?

As discussed above, prediabetes is a condition where your sugar levels are above the normal range but not too high to be diagnosed as Type-2 diabetes. This is an indication that one can develop diabetes if he/she doesn’t make the necessary lifestyle changes. This means the condition is not too late to turn things around.

With modified lifestyle changes such as a healthy diet, proper exercise, sound sleep, and more, anyone having prediabetes can prevent the condition to lead to diabetes.

Pre-diabetic Chart

Diagnosis Normal Prediabetes Diabetes
HbA1c 5.6% or less 5.7%-6.4% 6.5% or more
Fasting plasma glucose test 99mg/dl or less 100-125mg/dl 126mg/dl or more
Oral glucose tolerance test 140mg/dl or less 140-199mg/dl 200mg/dl or more


Prediabetes Symptoms

To prevent prediabetes from leading to Type-2 diabetes, it is important to identify the symptoms and take action steps accordingly. However, diabetes is a progressive condition, and therefore, the symptoms of prediabetes are not quite different from diabetes.

You may, however notice:

  • Blurry vision
  • Frequent urge to urinate
  • Increased thirst
  • Fatigue
  • Unusual smell to urine
  • Slow healing to wounds, especially on foot and legs
  • Weight gain around the abdomen
  • Lethargy
  • Sleepiness, generally after meals


Another sign to notice is if you have dark patches on different parts of your body. Generally, the areas that get affected are neck, armpits, elbows, knuckles and knees.

Prediabetes: Causes and Risk Factors

It is challenging to pinpoint the exact cause of prediabetes. However, genetics and family history may play a crucial role. If any of your parent or siblings have diabetes, the chances of you getting the same are higher.

Another thing to note is that just like in the case of diabetes, anyone with prediabetes faces the trouble of using insulin. Insulin is a vital hormone needed to transport glucose – used for energy – into the cells through the bloodstream. In prediabetes, either your body is not able to make enough insulin or is not able to use it properly, also known as insulin resistance.

In either case, your body starts building up glucose in your blood, eventually increasing your blood sugar levels, causing prediabetes. Although researchers are not able to understand how the insulin process can be disrupted in certain people, several risk factors can lead to prediabetes.

  • Genetics or family history

Prediabetes, or for that matter, Type-2 diabetes have a hereditary factor associated with it. If your parents or their parents have or had diabetes, you are also likely to develop it.

  • Overweight or obesity

Weight is another risk factor for prediabetes. If you have a BMI of 25 or more and have weight in the lower abdomen, the chances of you getting prediabetes are high. This is because the extra fat cells disrupt the production of insulin in your body.

Read More: How is obesity related to diabetes

  • Gestational diabetes

During pregnancy, the placenta develops hormones that lead to a buildup of glucose in your body. This leads to a condition called gestational diabetes, wherein the mother develops diabetes for that period. If you had the same, the chances of you having prediabetes are likely.

  • PCOS or polycystic ovarian syndrome

PCOS, a condition where small cysts are formed in your ovaries, leading to insulin resistance and causing prediabetes.

  • Smoking

Smoking puts the body through many health risks, one being prediabetes. Smoking affects the blood circulation, thus creating a buildup of sugar in the body and increasing the blood sugar levels.

Other factors that can develop prediabetes are if you are at the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol. Lack of physical activity or high stress can also be factors for this condition.


Prediabetes Treatment

Now, that we know the symptoms, causes, and risk factors of prediabetes, here are a few ways to treat if you are diagnosed with the same:

  • Review your food choices

The first step to treat prediabetes is to evaluate your food preferences. Alternate your unhealthy choices with healthy options. For instance, if you are someone who loves dessert, you can go for fruits instead. Add whole-wheat, vegetables, and protein to your diet. If necessary, you can consult a dietician who will be able to create a proper diet plan for you.

  • Exercise daily

Physical activity is required to burn the fat cells in your body. Moreover, when you workout, the body produces more glucose and more insulin, thus maintaining your blood sugar levels. Go for any moderate exercise such as cycling, swimming, or jogging to start. Make sure you do any form of physical activity for at least 30 minutes and then increase the duration eventually.

  • Maintain your BMI

Try losing weight, even by 5% to 10% to reduce the risk of progressing this condition to Type-2 diabetes. With the help of a healthy diet, regular exercise, and a healthy lifestyle, achieving the idle BMI would be a piece of cake.

Once you are diagnosed with prediabetes, it is advisable to check your blood sugar levels to see how your treatment is working for your body.

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