Prediabetes means the level of sugar in your blood is too high. If blood sugar continues to rise, you are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes.
You might look at prediabetes as your body sending you an alert. This alert is signaling you to take steps to improve your health. Doing so will lower blood sugar and keep you from developing diabetes. As a result, you’ll stay healthier well into the future.
Why worry about prediabetes?
In prediabetes, the body’s cells have trouble using sugar in the blood for energy. This means too much sugar stays in the blood. This can affect how the heart and blood vessels work. Without changes to diet and lifestyle, the problem can get worse and lead to type 2 diabetes.
Once you have type 2 diabetes, you always have it. Diabetes is linked with health risks, and needs to be managed for life. It can harm the organs like the eyes and kidneys. It raises the risk of heart disease. And it can damage nerves and blood vessels.
Who is at risk for prediabetes?
Certain risk factors make you more likely to develop prediabetes. These include:
- A family history of type 2 diabetes
- Being overweight
- Being older than age 45
- Having high blood pressure or elevated cholesterol
- Having had gestational diabetes
- Not being physically active
- Being African American, Asian American, Hispanic, Alaska Native, Native American, or Pacific Islander
You can have prediabetes and not have any symptoms. Or, you may have some of the symptoms of diabetes. Your doctor needs to take a blood test in order to make a diagnosis. You may have one or more of these blood tests:
- Fasting glucose test. Your doctor draws your blood and tests it after you have not eaten for at least 8 hours. A normal test result is 99 mg/dL or lower. Prediabetes is 100 mg/dL to 125 mg/dL. Diabetes is 126 mg/dL or higher.
- Glucose tolerance test. Your doctor measures blood sugar before and after you drink a very sugary liquid. A normal test result is 139 mg/dL or lower. Prediabetes is 140 mg/dL to 199 mg/dL. Diabetes is 200 mg/dL or higher.
- Hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c). Your HbA1c is normal if it is below 5.7%. Prediabetes is 5.7% to 6.4%. Diabetes is 6.5% or higher.
- Maintain a healthy weight. If weight loss is recommended, losing 5-7% of your current weight will help. How do you get started?
- Eat balanced meals. Build your plate with 50% non-starchy veggies, 25% lean protein, and 25% carbs.
- Stay active. Aim for 150 minutes a week or 30 minutes, 5 times a week.
- Stand up. When sitting for long periods, stand up every 30 minutes and move around.
- Manage stress. Try techniques to help keep stress at a minimum.
- Get your sleep. Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep a night.
These changes help the body’s cells use blood sugar better. Work with your Livongo expert coach or healthcare provider on a plan that works for you. Keep in mind that small changes can add up.
Untreated prediabetes can turn into diabetes. Follow the plan you have developed with your Livongo expert coach or healthcare provider to prevent this from happening. Be sure to ask questions along the way. Talk with your doctor about when to have your blood sugar checked again.
Symptoms of diabetes
Let your healthcare provider know if you:
- Always feel very tired
- Feel very thirsty or hungry much of the time
- Have to urinate often
- Lose weight for no reason
- Feel numbness or tingling in your fingers or toes
- Have cuts or bruises that don’t seem to heal
- Have blurry vision
Remember, prediabetes is an alert signaling you to take steps to improve your health, starting today!