HomeHealth Topics A to ZDiagnosed with Pre-Diabetes?
Health Topics

Diagnosed with Pre-Diabetes?

Take action to prevent diabetes

Diabetes is a common, serious health condition that causes a higher than normal level of glucose in the blood. Most glucose found in the body comes from the foods we eat.  During a normal digestive process, as the body breaks down food, sugar enters the bloodstream. The pancreas reacts by secreting a hormone called insulin to move the sugar through the bloodstream, allowing sugar to enter cells and reduce the amount of sugar present in the bloodstream.  Glucose levels become elevated when the body either does not produce enough insulin or the body is unable to use insulin properly. The glucose remains in the blood rather than being used by cells for energy. Additionally, individuals with diabetes are at an increased risk for developing other health issues including glaucoma, neuropathy, heart disease, kidney disease, and stroke.

There are several different forms of diabetes. The most common include Type 1, Type 2, Gestational and pre-diabetes. Type 1 diabetes, formerly referred to as juvenile diabetes, is most commonly diagnosed in children and young adults and occurs when the pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin. Type 2 diabetes is more commonly diagnosed in adults and is a result of the pancreas making less insulin as well as the body’s insulin not working efficiently. Gestational diabetes occurs in women whose blood sugar becomes elevated during pregnancy. Type 1, Type 2, and Gestational diabetes can all be controlled.

Normal fasting blood glucose levels fall between 70-99 mg/dL.   A fasting blood glucose level of 126 mg/dL or higher is in the diabetes range.  When the fasting blood sugar levels are higher than the target range but not high enough to be in the diabetes range, the individual has pre-diabetes (fasting glucose between 100 to 125 mg/dL). In general, people with pre-diabetes have no symptoms. This is why it is so important to keep up with annual wellness exams and routine blood work.  You may notice some of the earlier signs of diabetes including: increased thirst, hunger or urination, blurry vision, or increased fatigue.

There are some factors that increase a person’s risk for developing pre-diabetes. Those factors include:

Weight – Being overweight increases the risk for pre-diabetes.  Excess fat can lead to insulin resistance so that the body’s insulin doesn’t work properly.  Keeping your BMI below 25 (below 23 for Asian Americans) will decrease your risk.

Waist Size – The risk for insulin resistance increases in men with waists larger than 40 inches and women with waists larger than 35 inches.

Diet - Dietary factors like eating red or processed meat and drinking sugary beverages increases your risk while diets rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts and whole grains lower your risk.

Inactivity - The less active you are, the higher your risk for developing pre-diabetes. Staying active helps you maintain a healthy weight, burn glucose and make cells more sensitive to insulin.

Age - Diabetes and pre-diabetes can develop at any age, but the risk is higher after the age of 45.

Family History - Pre-diabetes is more likely if a parent or sibling has type 2 diabetes.

Race - Although it is unclear why, African-Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans, Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders have increased risk of developing pre-diabetes.

Gestational Diabetes - Women who develop gestational diabetes while pregnant have an increased risk of developing pre-diabetes later in life.

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome - This common female condition is linked to higher instances of pre-diabetes.

Sleep - Individuals with sleep disorders, including sleep apnea, or who work night or rotating shifts are more likely to develop insulin resistance.

Other health issues linked to the development of pre-diabetes include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Low HDL (“good” cholesterol)
  • High triglyceride levels (fat found in blood)

Pre-diabetes should be treated as a warning sign from your body that lifestyle changes are needed to prevent type 2 diabetes. Uncontrolled type 2 diabetes can lead to the development of several other health issues such as heart disease, kidney issues, blindness or stroke.  It is possible to reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes by eating a well-balanced diet, engaging in physical activity and maintaining a healthy weight.

Consult with your primary care physician if you have a family history of diabetes, or if you notice any symptoms of diabetes. A blood glucose test should be performed a minimum of every three years after the age of 45. Your physician may want to begin monitoring earlier and more frequently if you have a family history or are at an increased risk of developing pre-diabetes.


To schedule an appointment with a DuPage Medical Group provider visit www.scheduleDMG.com.

Topics and Subtopics: Diabetes Care & Diet & Nutrition

Learn more about:
Diabetes Care & Education
Receive more health tips and DMG news right in your inbox!
Sign up for the Live Life Well newsletter