Posted on 04/06/2017 in Treatments

What Is Prediabetes?

Prediabetes is a “pre-diagnosis” of diabetes—you can think of it as a warning sign. It’s when your blood glucose level (blood sugar level) is higher than normal, but it’s not high enough to be considered diabetes.

Prediabetes is an indication that you could develop type 2 diabetes if you don’t make some lifestyle changes.

Causes and Risk Factors

 Prediabetes develops when your body begins to have trouble using the hormone insulin. 

If you don’t have enough insulin or if you’re insulin resistant, you can build up too much glucose in your blood, leading to a higher-than-normal blood glucose level and perhaps prediabetes.

These are the same risk factors related to the development of type 2 diabetes:

  • Weight:  The extra fat cells can cause your body to become more insulin resistant.
  • Lack of physical activity: If you aren’t physically active, you’re more likely to develop prediabetes.
  • Family history: If someone in your close family has (or had) it, you are more likely to develop it.
  • Race/ethnicity: Certain ethnic groups are more likely to develop prediabetes, including African-Americans, Hispanic Americans, Native Americans, and Asian Americans.
  • Age: The older you are, the more at risk you are for developing prediabetes. At age 45, your risk starts to rise, and after age 65, your risk increases exponentially.
  • Gestational diabetes: If you developed diabetes while you were pregnant, that increases your risk for developing prediabetes later on.

To diagnose you with prediabetes, the doctor can run one of two tests—or he or she may decide to do both. The tests are:

Fasting plasma glucose test (FPG): You can’t eat anything for eight hours leading up to a FPG test. That's why a FPG test is often done in the morning. The doctor checks your blood glucose level (blood sugar level) after drawing a small blood sample.

Oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT): This is another test used to diagnose prediabetes. The doctor will give you instructions on how to prepare for the test, but you won’t be able to eat anything for eight hours before the test; you’ll be fasting. In that way, the oral glucose tolerance test, abbreviated OGTT, is similar to the fasting plasma glucose test.


The American Diabetes Association says that serious lifestyle changes are effective in preventing type 2 diabetes after you’ve been diagnosed with pre-diabetes. Your doctor will walk you through what you need to change, but typical recommendations are:

Eat well, Exercise, Lose weight, Metformin: For people who are at a very high risk of developing type 2 diabetes after being diagnosed with prediabetes, the doctor may recommend a medication.

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