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What's it like: To be diagnosed with prediabetes

by Jaclyn Cosgrove Modified: May 18, 2014 at 10:00 am •  Published: May 18, 2014

What is prediabetes?

Type 2 diabetes, the most common type of diabetes, develops when a person’s body doesn’t use the hormone insulin properly. Insulin helps your body absorb glucose and use it for energy.

If your body doesn’t make enough insulin or doesn’t use insulin properly, you have a condition called insulin resistance, which requires your body to produce higher levels of insulin. Over time, the body cannot keep up with the demand for extra insulin and type 2 diabetes develops.

“Prediabetes” is a term used to describe a medical condition in which a person is close to developing diabetes if he or she doesn’t change lifestyle and eating habits, among other things. Doctors often see it as a screening tool and an opportunity for a patient to turn his or her diagnosis around.

How is a prediabetes diagnosis determined?

Your doctor might screen you for diabetes if you are overweight or obese. For example, an A1C test, a blood test that shows average blood sugar level for the past three months, might show that you are at risk for developing diabetes.

An A1C test measures the percent of red blood cells that you have that are essentially coated with sugar. A normal A1C test is generally 5.7 percent or less. Meanwhile, “prediabetes” is usually if your A1C test is between 5.7 percent and 6.4 percent. And generally, an A1C test result of 6.5 percent or greater is thought to be diabetes.

Another measure that’s used to determine whether a person is at risk for developing diabetes is your fasting blood sugar levels. A fasting blood sugar of less than 100 is considered normal. A person is generally considered “prediabetic” if his or her fasting blood sugar is between 100 and 125. A person with a fasting blood sugar at 126 or higher would be considered diabetic.

What should a person do after a prediabetes diagnosis?

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by Jaclyn Cosgrove
Medical and Health Reporter
Jaclyn Cosgrove writes about health, public policy and medicine in Oklahoma, among other topics. She is an Oklahoma State University graduate. Jaclyn grew up in the southeast region of the state and enjoys writing about rural Oklahoma. She is...
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