The Doctor Says I Have Prediabetes; Now What?
The Doctor Says I Have Prediabetes; Now What?

Diabetes is a major health threat in the U.S. An estimated 84 million (1 in 3 Americans) over 20 have prediabetes but approximately 90% of them aren’t aware of their precarious situation.

Defining Prediabetes
Prediabetes is when blood sugar levels are elevated but not enough for a type 2 diabetes diagnosis.

What Are the Symptoms?

Common signs of prediabetes include:

  • Excessive thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Blurred vision
  • Unusual and unexplained fatigue
  • Unexpected weight loss
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Darkened skin or skin tags, especially in the armpit, on the back and sides of neck, elbow, knees or knuckles
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Increased hunger
  • Slow healing sores or wounds

What Are the Risk Factors?

  • Over 45 years of age
  • Waist circumference over 40 inches for men and 35 for women
  • Diet high in red meat, processed foods, sugary drinks
  • Diet low in fruit, veggies, nuts and whole grains, or olive oil
  • Having a parent or sibling with the condition
  • High cholesterol
  • From Black, Native American, Hispanic or Pacific Islander heritage
  • Having gestational diabetes or giving birth to a baby weighing over 9 pounds
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome
  • Sleep issues, especially apnea
  • Shift worker
  • Smoking
  • Hypertension
  • Sedentary lifestyle

A typical test administered to check for prediabetes is a fasting plasma glucose test where you are required to fast for 8 hours before the test. Results of the test are categorized as:

  • Normal: under 100 mg/dL
  • Prediabetes: between 100 and 125 mg/dL
  • Diabetes: 126 mg/dL or higher

Or you may be given the A1C test, a nonfasting measure of glucose in the bloodstream that is measured in percentages.

  • Healthy: under 5.7%
  • Prediabetes: 5.7 to 6.4%
  • Diabetes: over 6.5%

What You Can Do if Diagnosed with Prediabetes or Diabetes
The American Heart Association recommends you focus on the “Big 3,” of diet, exercise and weight loss. By addressing these in a sustainable way (not a crash or fad diet), you can stop the progression to actual diabetes or even reverse a prediabetes diagnosis.

Make lifestyle changes such as shrinking portions, swapping out unhealthy ingredients, and exercising at least 150 minutes a week. You don’t need a gym membership; just walk most days, and fit fitness into your life by taking the stairs instead of the elevator and simply moving more. Reducing stress and improving sleep are also important. So is limiting alcohol to 1 drink or less daily.

Even with these steps, your doctor may still need to prescribe medication. But a pill is no substitute for lifestyle changes; you still need to overhaul your habits and adopt a healthier way of living.