What is Pre-Diabetes?
Pre-diabetes occurs when an individual’s blood glucose levels are higher than normal, but not yet high enough to be diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.
Individuals with pre-diabetes are at high risk of developing Type 2 diabetes and typically face the same struggles maintaining healthy blood glucose levels caused by not being able to produce enough insulin, or having an insulin resistance.
According to Diabetes Australia, two million Australians have been diagnosed with pre-diabetes with one in three expected to develop Type 2 diabetes.
What are the risk factors of pre-diabetes?
Pre-diabetes often shows no signs or symptoms. Individuals should consult their doctor if they notice possible Type 2 diabetes characteristics such as increased thirst, increased hunger despite weight loss, frequent urination, fatigue and blurred vision.
Overweight individuals who are 45 years and older are commonly tested for pre-diabetes. Those under the age of 45 should be tested for pre-diabetes if they are overweight and indicate any of the following risk factors:
- Family history of Type 2 diabetes
- Limited physical activity
- Increased waist measurement
- Unhealthy diet
- Smoking history
- Increased blood pressure and cholesterol levels
- History of heart disease or stroke
- History of polycystic ovary syndrome
- History of vascular disease
- History of gestational diabetes
- Acanthosis nigricans, a condition indicating insulin resistance with dark rashes around the neck and armpits
- Members of certain ethnic backgrounds (including African-Americans, Hispanic Americans, Native American
How do I treat pre-diabetes?
While there is no cure for diabetes, individuals with pre-diabetes can make lifestyle changes to better manage their blood glucose levels, in order to delay or prevent the onset of Type 2 diabetes. Improvements in diet and increased amounts of physical activity can have long-lasting effects. Health-care providers may also recommend oral medication if lifestyle changes fail to help manage blood glucose levels.
How do I know if I have pre-diabetes?
To determine if you have pre-diabetes, the same diagnosis tests as Type 2 diabetes can be undertaken by your GP or some Pharmacists.
The first option is a Glycated Hemoglobin (A1C) Test, which is a blood test to determine an individual’s average blood sugar level for the past two to three months. If your A1C level is between 5.7 and 6.4 per cent, this can indicate pre-diabetes.
The second option is a Fasting Plasma Glucose (FPG) blood test. A blood sugar level lower than 5.6 mmol/L is considered normal, while a blood sugar level from 5.6- 6.9 mmol/L indicates pre-diabetes.
The third option is an Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT) which measures the blood glucose after an individual fasts for at least 8 hours, and 2 hours after they drink a liquid containing 75 grams of glucose. If at the 2 hour mark the blood glucose level is between 7.8 – 11.0 mmol/L, the individual is considered to have pre-diabetes.