Prediabetes is a condition in which blood sugar levels are higher than what is considered to be the normal range, however, the blood sugar is not yet high enough to be classified as a diagnosis for diabetes.
Prediabetes may also be described as a “pre diagnosis” of diabetes, because without an intervention, there is a high risk that patients with an on-going high blood glucose level will later be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.
Let’s define prediabetes, look at what glucose levels are normal and the seriousness of prediabetes on the whole.
What Is Prediabetes?
Prediabetes is a condition in which blood sugar or blood glucose is higher than it should be but the condition has not yet developed to type 2 diabetes.
If you are living with prediabetes, it means that your blood sugar is higher than it should be.
Prediabetes is also known as “Glucose Intolerance” and “Impaired Fasting Glucose”.
Prediabetes may be diagnosed at any age, however it is most commonly diagnosed after the age of 45.
Prediabetes can affect anyone however, among adults in the US, it will most likely affect African-Americans, Hispanics, Native American, Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders.
There are no symptoms of prediabetes which is why it is so important to get checked on a regular basis, especially if you have a family history of diabetes.
Prediabetes may be described as a pre-diagnosis for type 2 diabetes. It means that your blood sugar is consistently higher than it should be but it is not yet high enough to be a diagnosis of diabetes.
A high blood sugar or blood glucose level is reached when the body can no longer produce a sufficient amount of the hormone insulin, or the body becomes resistant to the insulin that is produced. Insulin is a hormone which controls glucose in the blood.
Too much glucose in the blood is harmful to your body over time and may lead to the negative day to day symptoms and long term consequences of diabetes. People who have type 2 diabetes may have been diagnosed with prediabetes first.
In sum: Pre-diabetes is defined by on-going high blood sugar, this indicates that there is a risk of developing type 2 diabetes down the line.
What Glucose Level Is Pre Diabetes?
If your haemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) test result is over 5.7%, it means that you have prediabetes.
However, the blood glucose level that indicates prediabetes depends on the type of type of test you take to measure blood sugar, and as well as the units of the test used.
HbA1c tests often report results as a percentage, and is an average measurement of how your blood sugar levels have been over the past 3 months and you do not need to fast for this test. For example, the test might indicate that your HbA1c is X%, easily showing whether your blood sugar is generally high or low. If you receive an A1c result of 5.7-6.4%, it indicates that you are living with prediabetes.
A fasting blood sugar test usually includes milligrams per deciliter or millimoles per litre as its unit.
Other common tests for diabetes include a two-hour postprandial test (which means taking the test 2 hours after eating) and a random blood sugar test.
As there are no symptoms of prediabetes, it’s important to take a blood glucose test every 1-3 years depending on risk factors such as family history, weight, diet and level of exercise. Your doctor will recommend how often you should take a diabetes test depending on your health history.
From the age of 45, it’s important to get checked every 3 years.
Is Prediabetes Serious?
Prediabetes is quite serious, though the condition has not yet developed to a type 2 diabetes diagnosis.
If you have prediabetes, it means that your body is trying to tell you something, the body is trying to tell you that you need to make lifestyle changes and you need to make them fast.
While there may not be very serious short term health complications if you are living with prediabetes, there may be severe complications if you are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and have long term poor blood sugar control. Long term uncontrolled type 2 diabetes can result in heart complications, nerve issues, eyesight complications and much more.
If you are living with prediabetes, all is not lost, there is still time to make the all-important lifestyle changes that could improve your quality of life and health.
It is possible to prevent prediabetes from developing into type 2 diabetes. Improving your nutrition, regularly exercising and maintaining a healthy weight can make all the difference in reverting prediabetes.
If you make healthy changes, you may be able to return your blood sugar to a constant and consistent healthy level that allows you to live your best and healthiest life.
As mentioned, there is no concrete list of symptoms that indicate that you have prediabetes, this makes regular screening much more important. After the age of 45, you need to start blood sugar screening every 3 years.
If you have a family history, you need to get checked earlier and on a more regular basis.
With LetsGetChecked, it is possible to test your blood sugar levels from home and find out what your average blood sugar levels over the last three months were. You should take the test if you suspect that you have diabetes, if you want to regularly check your blood sugar or as part of your regular routine screening.
Contact LetsGetChecked via live chat if you would like to learn more about our diabetes tests.
Written by Hannah Kingston | Medically Reviewed by Dr. Susan O' Sullivan