Prediabetes is a term that is used when you are at risk for type 2 diabetes. It means that your blood sugar is higher than it should be. Most people who get type 2 diabetes have prediabetes first. The good news is that lifestyle changes may help you get your blood sugar back to normal and avoid or delay diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes is a lifelong disease that happens when the pancreas can't make enough insulin and/or the body's tissues can't use insulin properly. Insulin is a hormone that helps the body's cells use sugar (glucose) for energy. It also helps the body store extra sugar in muscle, fat, and liver cells.
Without insulin, the sugar can't get into the cells to do its work. It stays in the blood instead. This can cause high blood sugar levels. A person has diabetes when the blood sugar stays too high too much of the time.
Over time, high blood sugar can cause serious problems with the eyes, heart, blood vessels, nerves, and kidneys. High blood sugar also makes a person more likely to get serious illnesses or infections.
Doctors don't know exactly what causes prediabetes. People who are overweight, aren't physically active, and have a family history of diabetes are more likely to get prediabetes. Women who have had gestational diabetes are also more likely to get prediabetes.
Most people with prediabetes don't have any symptoms. But if you have prediabetes, you need to watch for signs of diabetes, such as:
A blood test can tell if you have prediabetes. You have prediabetes if:
The key to treating prediabetes and preventing type 2 diabetes is getting your blood sugar levels back to a normal range. You can do this by making some lifestyle changes.
Making these changes may help delay or prevent diabetes. You may also avoid or delay some of the serious problems that you can get when you have diabetes, such as heart attack, stroke, and heart, eye, nerve, and kidney disease.
Some doctors may use medicine to control blood sugar in people with prediabetes. If your doctor prescribed medicine to help control your blood sugar, take it as prescribed.
Staying at a healthy weight, eating healthy foods, and getting regular exercise can help prevent prediabetes.