Prediabetes – Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

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Prediabetes is a condition in which all the symptoms required to label any person ‘diabetic’ are not met but still blood sugar levels are high enough which cannot be considered normal [5]. While diabetes is the condition in which all the diagnostic tests show high blood sugar levels in the results, Prediabetes is the condition in which diagnostic tests show the level of blood sugar in the body which is neither that high that it is considered as diabetic and not even normal. This condition is basically a very alarming sign signaling the upcoming metabolic disease.


The patients who are suffering from prediabetes are at high risk of developing Type II Diabetes more or less in 10 years. They should get alarmed if they are diagnosed with prediabetes and should change their lifestyle and follow the healthy regime and should also start involving themselves in more physical activity.

If left unattended, prediabetes can easily develop into full blown Type II Diabetes and may have adverse effects on the circulatory system as also the heart and other essential organs in the body. However, following a proper treatment procedure can easily help the blood sugar levels to drop down to normal and as such prediabetes is not classified as a chronic disorder. Maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle while keeping the weight in check can greatly help in reducing the sugar levels in an individual’s blood stream.


Blood sugar levels in Prediabetes

There are basically two criteria for considering the patient in prediabetes. And different physician follow different criteria. These two criteria for setting upper limit of fasting blood sugar level, a medical terminology, that is prediabetes are:

  • WHO criteria upper limit of fasting blood sugar is 110 mg/dl
  • ADA criteria upper limit of fasting blood sugar is 100 mg/dl

So, the patients showing this upper limit level or high are considered to be suffering from prediabetes.

Causes of Prediabetes

While the exact cause of prediabetes being developed in individuals is not known, it is generally agreed to be a condition which is caused by a combination of factors, primarily of which are genetics and the medical history of the family. Inactivity and the presence of excess fatty tissue in the body are also commonly linked to the condition.

As with proper diabetes, in prediabetes, the cells of the body are unable to effectively take up glucose from the blood stream and this subsequently leads to a build-up of the sugar levels in the blood stream. While this condition still is not threatening, it is definitely a wake-up call to individuals to change their lifestyle and to properly manage the condition.

Diabetes insulin

Causes of prediabetes can include both the pancreas of the body producing insufficient insulin or the body failing to react to the effects of insulin effectively.

Prediabetes should always be taken seriously as it means that an individual is exposed to the risk of developing Type II Diabetes later on in the future. While the condition is not chronic by itself, it can very easily develop into a chronic condition if left unattended to or if improperly treated.

Risk factors in Prediabetes

One should aware of the risk factors which lead to development of this condition. Following are various factors:

  • Overweight: Being overweight, is not only a risk factor for this disease, in fact it invites a number of many other metabolic diseases with it. The fat cells in the body increase in resistance against insulin and thus make a favorable environment for the development of Type II Diabetes.
  • Sedentary lifestyle: A sedentary lifestyle is highly associated with prediabetes. Physical activity greatly helps the cells of the body to effectively react to insulin and to absorb as much glucose from the blood stream as possible. Lack of activity can cause the fat cells to not absorb any glucose at all.
  • Genetics: Genetics play a major role in the development of prediabetes along with other factors influenced by the external environment. If an individual has a family history of diabetes, then they are more likely to develop this condition unless a healthy lifestyle is being followed.
  • Ovarian syndrome: The women suffering from polycystic ovarian disease, a condition characterized by presence of cysts in ovaries and irregular menstrual period, are more likely to develop this condition sometime in their life.
  • Improper sleep: Individuals who are not getting proper sleep or adequate time of sleep are at the risk of prediabetes. This has been proven by some recent studies. Lack of sleep as well as excess of sleep, both lead to increase the body’s resistance against insulin.
  • Age: While prediabetes can affect individuals at any age, the condition is more commonly associated with elderly people.
  • Waist size: A large waist size, typically caused by the deposition of excess fatty tissue around the abdominal region also increases the risk of an individual developing prediabetes.
  • Gestational Diabetes: Women who have had Gestational Diabetes in the past are also at a higher risk of developing both prediabetes and Type II Diabetes.

What is prediabetes?

Some of the common medical conditions that are also associated with prediabetes include:

  • An abnormally high blood pressure level
  • A very low level of HDL (good) type of cholesterol
  • An excess of triglycerides, a type of fat in the blood stream
  • Obesity

Prediabetes, if left unattended to, can result in some complications. These may include:

  • Progression of the disease to full blown Type II Diabetes
  • Diseases associated with high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels
  • Stroke
  • Heart and other cardiovascular diseases
  • Kidney diseases
  • Amputations in extremely severe cases
  • Blindness in some extreme cases

Diabetes risk factors

Tests for Diagnosing Prediabetes

The testing of prediabetes can be done using any of the following [2]:

  • A glycated hemoglobin test, also known as an A1C test is used to measure the amount of blood sugar or glucose that is attached to the red blood cells of the body. A normal A1C test result lies below 5.7%. A test result in between 5.7% and 6.4% determines prediabetes. In case the result is above 6.5%, full blown diabetes is suspected and additional tests are required to be carried out. This test, however, is not very accurate for pregnant women and also people who have a variant of hemoglobin in their body.
  • A blood sugar test after fasting is also used in order to determine prediabetes. Under normal circumstances, the test results indicate a blood sugar concentration level of less than 100mg/dL or 5.6mmol/L. If this level rises up to 125mg/dL or up to 6.9mmol/L, it indicates prediabetes in an individual. Levels even higher than this determines full blown diabetes mellitus.
  • An oral glucose tolerance test may also be used to determine prediabetes. After the oral sample has been consumed, the blood sugar levels are checked after a period of 8 hours in order to determine the condition. A blood sugar concentration level between 140mg/dL to 199mg/dL indicates prediabetes.
  • If the blood sugar levels are within check, but the individual is at a risk of developing prediabetes, the doctor may advise on frequent and regular screening tests and checkups to be conducted from time to time. The levels of blood pressure and also the cholesterol levels should be kept in check alongside the monitoring of blood sugar levels.
Diabetes OGT test Diabetes HbA1c test

Your health is your treasure. To keep your body healthy and free from disease, you should first start losing your weight, if you are overweight and in your diet, the following things you need to take care of:Treatment and Prevention of Prediabetes

  • Eat boiled food only and stop eating fried foods.
  • Cut the amount of butter and oil you use in your cooking.
  • Eat more green vegetables and go for more protein diet like fish and chicken and cut down on your carbohydrates.

Individuals suffering from, or at a risk to developing the condition should also get as much physical activity as they can. Typically, it is recommended that individuals get a least an hour of moderate to rigorous physical activity every day.

Often, people who are overweight are at a higher risk of developing the condition. Excess weight should be shed off as soon as possible as obesity and a higher weight greatly increases the chances of developing Type II Diabetes in the future.

Diabetes exercise

In some special cases, sufferers of prediabetes may need to resort to oral medications in order to control the symptoms. In such cases, metformin is a commonly prescribed drug. Typically, this is only prescribed if the individual is over 60, or has a history of gestational diabetes or has a body mass index greater than 35. In addition to medications aimed directly at controlling the symptoms of prediabetes, indirect medications may also be used which can help regulate the blood pressure levels and can also help keep the cholesterol levels in check.

Alternative Therapies for Prediabetes

There are a range of alternative therapies that are used across the world [3]. While none of these are clinically proven, these remedies may prove to be quite effective in helping alleviate symptoms of prediabetes. Despite the lack of definitive evidence, the following alternative medications and remedies are quite popular:

  • Chromium
  • Cassia cinnamon
  • Coenzyme Q10
  • Ginseng
  • Glucomannan
  • Guar gum
  • Gymnema
  • Magnesium
  • Soy
  • Prickly pear cactus
  • Stevia

There are many other dietary supplements and alternative therapies available. However, it is recommended that these therapies are only sought in conjunction with the traditional methods of treatment of the condition and also after the recommendation of a licensed medical professional or healthcare provider.

Some Tips for Prediabetes Appointment

Individuals who have been diagnosed with prediabetes or those who stand a risk of developing the disease will need to visit a licensed medical practitioner in order to successfully control the symptoms of the disorder [4]. Thankfully, this is a relatively simple procedure. Individuals should not fear this and must avail of medical attention at the earliest before any complications arise.

Sufferers must always adhere to the prerequisites of the diagnostic tests conducted on them. Some such tests require fasting before the collection of blood samples and care must be taken that each test meets the required prerequisites. Improperly conducted tests can lead to a vastly incorrect diagnosis of the condition.

All the symptoms experienced by a sufferer, should be disclosed to the medical examiner. Any other medications that the individual may be taking should also be mentioned to the doctor and recommendation should be taken before deciding on continuing with the medications.

In case there have been any unexpected physiological changes in the body, such as an unexplained change in weight, it may indicate rapidly rising blood sugar levels. Immediate attention should be given to such changes and they must also be always mentioned to the medical examiner in order to quickly determine if there are any chances of complications or other associated risks with the condition.

Dieticians and physiotherapists can also prove to be of great help to prediabetes sufferers. These people have the required knowledge, knowhow and expertise to effectively help in controlling the levels of sugar in the blood and subsequently keep both prediabetes and Type II Diabetes at bay. They can also offer specialized advice and consultation as per the individual’s physiological requirements as each sufferer of prediabetes will have a unique body and chemical composition and may also be suffering from other medical conditions as well.

Other health conditions will need special care, alongside the treatment and management of prediabetes [5]. The condition is a difficult one as it means that lifelong dedication and support will be required in order to combat the disease and to prevent the onset of Type II Diabetes. However, by only maintaining a healthy lifestyle, following a healthy diet and by getting adequate amounts of physical activity, the symptoms of prediabetes can easily be kept in check. Many people have uses the condition as an opportunity to successfully turn around their lifestyle into being much more active and healthy and this should be done by everyone who faces a risk of this disease.



[1] Idiopathic neuropathy, prediabetes and the metabolic syndrome, A. Gordon Smith,, J. Robinson Singleton; Volume 242, Issues 1-2, Pages 9-14 – March 15, 2006 – DOI: 10.1016/j.jns.2005.11.020,

[2] Screening for Diabetes and Pre-Diabetes With Proposed A1C-Based Diagnostic Criteria, Darin E. Olson, Mary K. Rhee, Kirsten Herrick, David C. Ziemer, Jennifer G. Twombly, and Lawrence S. Phillips,; 33no. 10 2184-2189 – October 2010, DOI: 10.2337/dc10-0433Diabetes Care,

[3] Effect of regression from prediabetes to normal glucose regulation on long-term reduction in diabetes risk, Leigh Perreault, Qing Pan, Kieren J Mather, Karol E Watson, Richard F Hamman, Steven E Kahn,; Volume 379, Issue 9833, Pages 2243–2251, June 2012,

[4] Pre-Type I Diabetes: Linear Loss of Beta Cell Response to Intravenous Glucose, S Srikanta, O P Ganda, R E Gleason, R A Jackson, J S Soeldnerand G S Eisenbarth,; 33 no. 8 717-720 – August 1984 – DOI: 10.2337/diab.33.8.717Diabetes ,

[5] What Is the Metabolic Syndrome?: Prediabetes and Cardiovascular Risk, Borgman, Marilyn RN, BSN; McErlean, Ellen MSN, RN, FAHA,, Volume 21 – Issue 4 – July/August 2006 –

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