In the United States, while 30.3 million children and adults have diabetes, another 84.1 million adults have prediabetes – this is more than 1 in 3 adults in the US. In prediabetes, blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not high enough to be defined as diabetes.
9 of 10 people with prediabetes do not realize they have it.
Prediabetes increases your risk of Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.
Causes of Prediabetes
There is not a single cause of prediabetes. There are many genetic, social, and environmental factors that play a role. While you can inherit a tendency to develop the condition, excessive weight gain and/or physical inactivity can increase your risk
Risk Factors and Symptoms for Prediabetes
Risk factors for prediabetes include but are not limited to the following:
- Age – those 45 or older are at a higher risk
- Family history of diabetes
- Being overweight (body mass index of >25 kg/m2 or >23 kg/m2 in Asian Americans)
- Physical inactivity
- Race and ethnicity – African-Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asian Americans, and American Indians are at a higher risk
- History of gestational diabetes
- History of polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
- A low HDL level
- A high triglyceride level
Most commonly, individuals with prediabetes experience no symptoms or only very mild ones. As glucose levels rise, symptoms can mimic those of type 2 diabetes. These include but are not limited to:
- Increased thirst
- Frequent urination
- Weight loss despite not adhering to a strict diet or exercise regimen
- Frequent bladder or skin infections
- Blurred vision
- Nausea and vomiting
- Weakness and fatigue
- Irritability and mood changes
- Dry, itchy skin
- Tingling or loss of feeling in the hands or feet
- Cuts or injuries that heal slowly
Managing Your Prediabetes
Studies have shown that controlling your body weight, eating a healthy diet, and regular exercise can prevent or delay type 2 diabetes by as much as 50% even in those who are genetically predisposed or have pre-diabetes.
Some people take medications such as metformin or other diabetes medications to reduce their risk of progressing to diabetes however this use of medications is considered off-label. You should talk with your doctor to determine when starting medication is right for you.