Prediabetes - Too Much Sugar

Prediabetes (or impaired glucose tolerance (IGT)) is when the blood glucose levels within the body are higher than normal but are not yet high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes.

It is a reversible condition but if not managed it can lead to type 2 diabetes which is a more serious condition. Prediabetes is often referred to as 'Borderline Diabetes'.

A new study published in the British Medical Journal suggests there has been a big rise in Prediabetes with a third of adults in England now having it.

Also with the rise in obesity in the UK, which is a key contributing factor, it is now more than ever important we try to prevent diabetes at the earliest opportunity.

What are the symptoms of prediabetes?

Often there are no symptoms of prediabetes. It is only when you have progressed from Prediabetes to type 2 diabetes that you notice any symptoms.

Check yourself against this list of contributing factors

If you answer yes to any of the below then you are at higher risk of having prediabetes. It doesn't necessarily mean you have it. The only way to properly know the answer is to talk to your GP.

Doctors and some pharmacies can also check your weight and blood pressure which is useful information when managing your health.

  • Family history of diabetes
  • 45yrs or older
  • High blood pressure
  • If you are overweight with a BMI of 25+. You can check it using our BMI calculator.
  • A waist circumference of 40 inches or more (in men) and 35 inches or more (in women).
  • Sedentary lifestyle and low levels of physical activity
  • High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol below 35 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) (0.9 millimoles per litre, or mmol/L) or triglyceride level above 250 mg/dL (2.83 mmol/L)

Questions for women only:

  • Do you have polycystic ovary syndrome?
  • Did you develop gestational diabetes when you were pregnant?
  • Did you give birth to a baby who weighed more than 9 pounds?

Prediabetes can affect anyone however some groups are genetically more prone such as:

  • Afro-Caribbean
  • South Asian
  • Native American

If you are worried about having or developing prediabetes, please see your doctor.

How do I find out if I have Prediabetes?

It is important to have regular check-ups with your doctor so that they can advise you on any changes you need to make to your lifestyle.

If you are between the ages of 40 and 74yrs, the NHS will provide you with a free health check every 5 years. Amongst other things, the health check with test for prediabetes / diabetes.

What are the tests a doctor will perform for prediabetes?

Prediabetes will be diagnosed by a doctor by performing the following tests:

prediabetes table

Prediabetes testDefinitionNormal levelsPrediabetic levels
HbA1c test When haemoglobin, joins with glucose in the blood it becomes 'glycated'. HbA1c is the medical term for glycated haemoglobin. The test shows average blood sugar levels over a period of weeks/months. The higher the HbA1c, the greater the risk of developing diabetes-related complications. 41 mmol /mol and below (5.9% and below) Should not be used as a diagnostic test for diabetes. 42 mmol /mol to 47 mmol /mol (6.0% to 6.4%)
Fasting plasma glucose (FPG) test A fasting glucose test will be performed in the morning as this provides the body with adequate time to fast. The NHS advises people who are having a fasting glucose test not to eat or drink anything except water for 8 to 10 hours before the test is performed. The test requires a blood sample to be taken from the patients arm 5.9 mmol/l and below combined with other risk factors constitutes a moderate risk of developing diabetes. 6.0 mmol/L to 6.9 mmol/L

What can I do to prevent/reverse prediabetes?

  • Lose 5% of my body weight
  • Get active
  • Stop smoking
  • Reduce my alcohol intake

What are the symptoms of Type 2 diabetes?

If your prediabetes has progressed to Type 2 diabetes you may have some of the following symptoms:

  • Increased thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Fatigue
  • Blurred vision

If you experience any of these symptoms, please consult your doctor as soon as possible.

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