What Is Pre-diabetes?
Pre-diabetes is a “pre-diagnosis” of diabetes—you can think of it as a warning sign. It’s when your blood glucose level (blood sugar level) is higher than normal, but it’s not high enough to be considered diabetes. Pre-diabetes is an indication that you could develop type 2 diabetes if you don’t make some lifestyle changes. But that’s the good part: it is possible to prevent pre-diabetes from developing into type 2 diabetes. Eating healthy food, losing weight and staying at a healthy weight, and being physically active can help you bring your blood glucose level back into the normal range.
Diabetes develops very gradually, so when you’re in the pre-diabetes stage—when your blood glucose level is higher than it should be—you may not have any symptoms at all. You may, however, notice that:
• you’re hungrier than normal
• you’re losing weight, despite eating more
• you’re thirstier than normal
• you have to go to the bathroom more frequently
• you’re more tired than usual
All of those are typical symptoms associated with diabetes, so if you’re in the early stages of diabetes, you may notice them.
Causes and Risk Factors
Pre-diabetes develops when your body begins to have trouble using the hormone insulin. Insulin is necessary to transport glucose—what your body uses for energy—into the cells via the bloodstream. In pre-diabetes, your body either doesn’t make enough insulin or it doesn’t use it well.
If you don’t have enough insulin or if you’re insulin resistant, you can build up too much glucose in your blood, leading to a higher-than-normal blood glucose level and perhaps pre-diabetes.
Researchers aren’t sure what exactly causes the insulin process to go awry in some people. There are several risk factors, though, that make it more likely that you’ll develop pre-diabetes. These are the same risk factors related to the development of type 2 diabetes:
- Weight: If you’re overweight (have a body mass of higher than 25), you’re at a high risk for developing pre-diabetes. Especially if you carry a lot of extra weight in your abdomen, you may develop pre-diabetes. The extra fat cells can cause your body to become more insulin resistant.
• Lack of physical activity: This often goes hand-in-hand with being overweight. If you aren’t physically active, you’re more likely to develop pre-diabetes.
• Family history: Pre-diabetes has a hereditary factor. If someone in your close family has (or had) it, you are more likely to develop it.
• Race/ethnicity: Certain ethnic groups are more likely to develop pre-diabetes.
• Age: The older you are, the more at risk you are for developing pre-diabetes. At age 45, your risk starts to rise, and after age 65, your risk increases exponentially.
• Gestational diabetes: If you developed diabetes while you were pregnant, that increases your risk for developing pre-diabetes later on.
• Other health problems: High blood pressure and high cholesterol increase your risk of getting type 2 diabetes.
Be conscious before it’s too late.