What is Prediabetes? Symptoms, Causes, Complications, Treatment, Diet

Diabetes is today becoming rampant and the condition becomes highly complex to tackle. It comes with high glucose level in the blood due to which the body is affected by a host of other complicated diseases. It is a known fact that the condition can be managed by maintaining a healthy lifestyle, managing diet, and by indulging in some kind of physical activity. What is not known is that diabetes, particularly type 2 diabetes is generally preceded by a condition known as prediabetes. Prediabetes is caused when the body develops resistance towards the hormone, Insulin.

As per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, around 35% of the US population suffers from this condition. Most of the patients are unaware that they are prediabetic. This is like a warning bell for all the potential diabetes patients but the good thing about prediabetes is that it can be reversed and through proper precautions and treatment, it is possible to prevent prediabetes from reaching the type 2 diabetes stage.

In this article, we will try to understand more about prediabetes and how the same can be treated and managed. Join in for the article “What is Prediabetes? It’s Symptoms, Causes, Treatment & Diet?

Table of Contents

What is Prediabetes?

Prediabetes, as the name suggests, is nothing but a pre-diagnosis of diabetes. It is essentially an early warning sign that you are going to have diabetes if the same type of lifestyle and diet is maintained. It is a state where the blood glucose level is higher than what it should be in a healthy, normal person. However, the glucose level is not as high as it is in the case of a diabetic. Prediabetes often develops into type 2 diabetes if adequate care is not taken by the patient concerned.

What is Prediabetes

Show yourself to the doctor and get checked for prediabetes in case you are experiencing any of the following:

  • You have had a history of high blood glucose.
  • You are someone who is suffering from a heart-related condition.
  • Your body is unable to utilize the Insulin produced by the pancreas effectively.

When you have prediabetes, there are 10 % chances that you will get type 2 diabetes in within a year. However, the chances of developing the same during your entire lifetime are somewhere around 70%.

What is the Difference Between Diabetes and Prediabetes?

The main difference between diabetes and prediabetes is the level of blood glucose. Prediabetes is a situation where a patient experiences higher than the normal level of blood glucose but not as high as in the case of a diabetic patient. Following is the blood sugar level:

  • In the case of fasting glucose, the prediabetic range of blood glucose is 100-125 while anything above 125 is diabetic.
  • In the case of oral glucose tolerance test, the prediabetic range of blood glucose is 140-199 while anything above 199 is diabetic.
  • In the case of average blood sugar test, the prediabetic range of blood glucose is 5.7% and 6.4% while anything above 6.4% is diabetic.

Another major difference is that diabetes can either be caused when the pancreas does not produce any insulin at all (Type 1 diabetes) or the body is unable to utilize the insulin produced by the pancreas effectively (Type 2 diabetes). Prediabetes is a state which if not controlled and managed early on, slowly progresses into becoming type 2 diabetes.

Finally, while there are very rare chances of reversing diabetes, the chances of preventing prediabetes from progressing into type 2 diabetes are higher and brighter.

How Do You Get Diagnosed for Prediabetes?

The doctors are able to diagnose that you are a prediabetic, by carrying out the following three types of tests:

Fasting Plasma Glucose Test: It is required for you to stay hungry for 8 hours when you take this test. If the test shows that your blood glucose is less than 100, you are healthy, if it ranges between 100-125, you are prediabetic and anything above that makes you a diabetes patient.

Oral Glucose Tolerance Test: After the above test, the doctor shall give you a sugary solution to drink and test your blood glucose level again after a couple of hours. In this case, the person is normal is the blood glucose level is less than 140, he or she is prediabetic if it ranges between 140-199, and diabetic if the blood sugar is higher than 199.

Average Blood Sugar Test: As the name suggests, the average blood sugar test is used to show the level of blood sugar which has been maintained in the last 2-3 months’ time. As per this test, you are normal if the blood glucose level is 5.6% or less, prediabetic if it ranges between 5.7% and 6.4%, and anything above that makes you a diabetic patient.

Symptoms of Prediabetes

Like in the case of type 2 diabetes, the symptoms of prediabetes are not very apparent and they take a long time to surface. However, following are a few signs and symptoms that you might experience if you have prediabetes:

  • Feeling more hungry than normal.
  • You eat more as you feel hungry but then you are losing weight rather than putting it on.
  • Since you feel more thirsty, you drink more water and you need to urinate all the more frequently.
  • You feel exhausted and tired as compared to what you usually do.
  • A few people might also experience blurred vision.
  • Besides, since prediabetes is an early stage of type 2 diabetes, you can also experience skin darkening in different parts of the body.

Having said that, there could be no signs at all. We know that the symptoms of diabetes build up only gradually and as such, there is a huge possibility that the patient might not experience anything that is not normal. The only possible way to detect accurately about the condition is by getting the blood glucose levels checked.

What are the Causes of Prediabetes?

Like in the case of diabetes, there is no precise cause which can be pointed as the reason causing prediabetes. In this case, too, the body is unable to utilize Insulin efficiently. As such, glucose which comes from the food does not easily move into the cells for the body to produce the necessary energy. Hence, there is a lot of sugar which gets accumulated in the blood, causing the problem of high glucose and sugar level.

Some causes of prediabetes are very similar to the ones causing type 2 diabetes as the condition ultimately leads to type 2 diabetes. Following are a few possible causes of prediabetes:

Genetic Reasons

Some experts suggest that the primary reason for prediabetes, like type 2 diabetes is the genes. According to the research, a few people will not develop this condition at all as they do not have the genes to do so. Also, the research points out to the fact that the HLA complex is what determines the onset of a condition like diabetes and hence it is the genes which play a major role. This is very similar to that of type 1 diabetes. In fact, a study conducted by the elite organization, American Diabetes Association, have made the following inferences from a study conducted by its reputed and knowledgeable experts:

  • If both your parents have it, there are 50% chances that you shall have type 2 diabetes as well as prediabetes.
  • If one of your parents was diagnosed with it after the age of 50, the chances of you inheriting the same are 1 in 13.
  • If one of your parents was diagnosed with it before the age of 50, the chances of you inheriting the same are 1 in 7.


As we know, overweight and obese people are more prone to getting type 2 diabetes. Hence, the same happens for prediabetes as well. If you have more fatty tissue especially around the abdominal area, you shall be more prone to getting prediabetes.


Physical activity helps to maintain a healthy weight, and in turn, prevents prediabetes. If you are inactive, you have a higher possibility of getting prediabetes due to increased weight as well as waistline.


The risk of prediabetes increases particularly after you attain the age of 45. Having said that, the condition can occur at any stage of your life.

Race and Ethnicity

People belonging to a certain race such as African-Americans, Native Americans, Pacific Islanders, etc. are more prone and susceptible to getting prediabetes.

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS):

This is a condition which only affects women. If a woman has PCOS, there are higher chances of her suffering from obesity and hence, higher chances of getting prediabetes.

Gestational Diabetes

If during pregnancy the mother had gestational diabetes, both the mother and the child stand at a higher risk of getting prediabetes. If the child you gave birth to weighs more than 4 kilograms, there is again a higher chance of developing the condition.

Sleep Disorders

For some reason, those suffering from sleep disorders such as obstructive sleep apnea, and other disorders are more prone to developing resistance to the usage of the hormone, Insulin. Hence, they have greater chances of developing prediabetes.

What are the Complications Associated with Prediabetes?

When a patient is suffering from prediabetes, he or she experiences certain complications as well. Following are a few:

  • High blood glucose and high blood pressure.
  • High levels of cholesterol.
  • Higher levels of triglycerides.
  • Higher chances of getting a heart attack or stroke.
  • Prediabetes can also cause damage to the kidneys.
  • Blindness and amputations of different body parts could be a few other risks involved.

In fact, the complications are very similar to the ones experienced by a diabetic patient. A few expert’s belief that the complications stated above are caused even if a prediabetic patient has not progressed into the stage where he or she has contracted diabetes.

Treatment of Prediabetes

As we know, prediabetes may often lead to type 2 diabetes. Hence, it is of primary importance that prediabetes is treated as soon as it is detected. A prediabetes patient can be reversed to being normal. The treatment for prediabetes is on similar lines for those in type 2 diabetes.

Some treatment for prediabetes involve:

Being More Active

As seen above, one of the causes of prediabetes is the lack of physical exercise. Hence, if a prediabetic becomes active and spends around 30 minutes in exercising daily for at least five times a week, the condition can be treated and even reversed.

Another way of treating prediabetes as a condition is to quit smoking.

Loss of Excess Weight

Another important way of treating prediabetes is shedding all those extra calories as needed. Research conducted by the experts have suggested that if you are someone who is obese and overweight, you should reduce around 10 percent of your body weight. This drastically reduces the chances of prediabetes developing into type 2 diabetes. You need to adopt a few changes in your lifestyle and diet to achieve the same.

Medication and Drugs

A few medications are also prescribed by the doctors which shall help prevent prediabetes from getting converted into diabetes. A few of these medicines include metformin, Glucophage, amongst others. As per the American Diabetes Association, metformin is the only medicine that should be recommended for the patients who suffer from type 2 and hence prediabetes.

Alternative Medical Treatments

Some alternative medical treatments involve the usage of the following:

Diet for Prediabetes

As mentioned in the above paragraphs, diet plays a huge role in treating prediabetes. As such follow the following tips:

Eat Lean Meats

Experts recommend the use of leans meats such as chicken without skin, legumes, beans, turkey without skin, egg whites, fish, etc. the lean meats are recommended because of the high amount of saturated fats and cholesterol present in meat.

Drink Alcohol in Moderation

It is also recommended that if you are into drinking, you should drink alcohol only in moderation. In fact, the American Diabetes Association recommend that women suffering from the condition should drink only a bottle per day, while men can have no more than a couple of drinks.

Eat Fiber-Rich Food

When you eat food which is high in fiber, you tend to feel fuller for a longer period of time. Examples of a few fiber-rich food include whole grain cereals, whole wheat pasta, whole grain bread, fruits and vegetables, whole grains, amongst others.

Avoid Sugary Drinks

Sugary drinks are known to offer empty calories and increase your carbohydrates. Hence, they should be best avoided.

Eat Carbohydrates with Low Glycemic Index

Glycemic index is nothing but a tool which helps you understand and read how a particular type of food that you eat will impact the level of blood glucose in your body. If a food is high in glycemic index, your blood glucose level will increase. Therefore, you should go for those types of food which have low glycemic index. A few items include:

Control your Portion

When you are trying to lose weight, and maintain your waistline, it is important or you to control the portion size. Do not overeat and make sure to eat every three to four hours. Also, it is important to take small portion sizes because that further helps in maintaining the low glycemic index.

Keep Yourself Hydrated at all Times:

Another important factor to be kept in mind is that you should keep yourself hydrated at all times. Drink around six to seven glasses of water each day.

Hence, with the above treatments and dietary adjustments, it is possible for you to reverse the problem of prediabetes and its associated complications.

We hope that the above post has been helpful in educating you more about prediabetes, its diagnosis, causes, symptoms, and how the condition can be managed and treated.As seen in the above post, patients who suffer from prediabetes standa higher chance of developing heart- related condition, and hence, it becomes imperative that proper care is taken while dealing with it. The article also lays down the importance of getting the blood glucose levels regularly checked as there are no concrete signs of getting aware that you suffer from this condition. So, when in doubt, go and see the doctor and prevent yourself from getting diagnosed with type 2 diabetes!!

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