When you hear “prediabetes” you may not think it is a bad thing to have, but in reality, it is dangerous. Prediabetes is a condition that can lead to further complications if not taken seriously. According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), prediabetes is defined as an individual whose blood sugar (glucose) levels do not meet the criteria for type 2 diabetes but are too high to be considered normal. Having prediabetes will put you at an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes which can further lead to heart disease, strokes, eye problems, and even kidney disease if not treated.
The cause of prediabetes is mainly insulin resistance. A hormone called insulin, which is made in the pancreas, is secreted when there is too much glucose in the blood and directs it in the cells. In insulin resistance, however; the insulin is still made and secreted, but the cells do not take in the glucose which causes more insulin to be made by the pancreas until it cannot keep up anymore and stops producing insulin. This results in an abnormally high amount of glucose to be present in the blood which causes prediabetes and ultimately leads to type 2 diabetes.
You may be at risk of developing prediabetes and subsequently type 2 diabetes if you have any of the following risk factors:
- Overweight/Obesity. The more weight you have surrounding your abdomen, the more likely you are to become resistant to insulin.
- Inactivity. Being physically inactive and living a sedentary lifestyle can cause less insulin sensitivity and increase blood glucose levels.
- Diet. Processed foods and drinks contain a lot of sugar and high levels of carbohydrates which will not only cause you to become more insulin resistant but will also cause the pancreas to crash and not produce normal amounts of insulin.
- Age. Although prediabetes can occur at any age, the risk increases after the age of 45.
- Family history. If you have parents or siblings that have type 2 diabetes, your chances of developing it will increase.
- Race or ethnicity. People who are Black, Hispanic, American Indian, and Asian American are more likely to develop prediabetes and subsequent type 2 diabetes.
- Gestational diabetes. This occurs in women who had diabetes while they were pregnant. Blood glucose levels tend to normalize after the birth of the baby but can become elevated again later in life, especially if not controlled.
- Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). PCOS is defined as irregular menstrual periods that are caused by cysts in the ovaries. This typically causes high levels of male hormones to appear which leads to excessive hair growth, weight gain, and insulin resistance which increases risk of prediabetes and diabetes.
Signs and Symptoms
There are really no noticeable signs or symptoms of prediabetes. There are many people who may present with symptoms and not even think they have prediabetes or even diabetes. But if you do experience any of these you may need to see your doctor to get your blood sugar tested.
- Darkened spots around certain areas of the body, such as, neck, armpits, elbows, knees, and knuckles.
- Frequent urination
- Increased thirst
- Increased hunger
- Blurred vision
If caught early, you can prevent prediabetes from turning into type 2 diabetes and thus prevent further complications that can occur with the condition. Take this quiz today and find out if you are at risk for prediabetes. Knowing your risk and treating early can help you gain a much healthier life.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020, June 11). Prediabetes - Your Chance to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/basics/prediabetes.html.
- Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2020, September 22). Prediabetes. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/prediabetes/symptoms-causes/syc-20355278.
- Watson, S. (2021, April 19). Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/polycystic-ovary-disease#symptoms.