Prediabetes vs Type 2 Diabetes

The CDC estimates that >37 million people in the U.S. are diagnosed with diabetes, and 96 million people are diagnosed with prediabetes. Even more shocking is that an additional 8.5 million people have prediabetes but haven’t been diagnosed. (5)

What Is Prediabetes

Prediabetes is a term used to describe an intermediate stage between normal glucose tolerance and impaired glucose tolerance. (2) Much of the food you eat is turned into glucose (sugar) and enters your bloodstream. Insulin, which is made by your pancreas, helps to move glucose from the blood into the cells throughout your body. If you have been diagnosed with prediabetes, it means your blood sugar is higher than normal guidelines but not high enough to be diagnosed with diabetes. Using guidelines from the American Diabetes Association (ADA) and the World Health Organization (WHO), prediabetes is defined by a fasting glucose level of 100 to 125 mg/dL, a glucose level of 140 to 199 mg/dL measured 2 hours after a 75-g oral glucose load, or glycated hemoglobin level (HbA1C) of 5.7% to 6.4% or 6.0% to 6.4%. (1)

What Is Type 2 Diabetes?

Having type 2 diabetes means that your body doesn’t make enough insulin, or can’t use it as well as it should. Your body needs insulin to convert glucose to energy in your cells so without it, the result is impaired glucose tolerance. When too much sugar stays in the blood, over time it can damage blood vessels and cause health problems such as heart disease, kidney disease, vision loss, and neuropathy (numbness or tingling) in the hands and feet.

Not everyone with prediabetes goes on to develop type 2 diabetes and this is definitely good news! But unfortunately, many people do. Many factors can increase the risk of developing diabetes over time, such as family history, age, ethnicity, weight, diet, stress levels, lifestyle activity, and sex.

What are the symptoms of diabetes?

Knowing the symptoms of diabetes can identify it in the early stages (prediabetes) and may help delay its progression. Symptoms can vary from person to person, however the typical symptoms of diabetes include frequent urination, increased thirst, and increased hunger. (3) Feelings of hunger arise because the body is being starved of glucose, which is being passed through the urine. Another symptom is weight loss. When the food you eat is not being properly used, your body starts to burn muscle and fat for energy. Weight loss can occur even if you haven’t changed how you eat. It is common to mistake these symptoms for other ailments which is why many people often go undiagnosed.

How are prediabetes and type 2 diabetes managed?

There are several ways to manage prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. This is because there is no one treatment that works for everyone.

For type 2 diabetes, medications are usually used to lower blood sugar by way of providing insulin, helping the pancreas make more insulin, helping the cells become more sensitive to insulin, decreasing the glucose production of the liver, or delaying absorption of carbohydrates in the gut. Medications can have bothersome side effects so often times people have to try different medications to see what works for them. Lifestyle changes, like diet and exercise, are encouraged as well.

For prediabetes, lifestyle changes are strongly encouraged as a way to manage and prevent type 2 diabetes. Diets lower in carbohydrates, especially refined carbohydrates like added sugars and white flour, naturally decrease the amount of glucose that goes into the blood. Adopting a meal plan that promotes a moderate amount of complex carbohydrates (whole fruit, whole grains, beans and legumes), healthy fats, and lean proteins not only help control blood sugar, but provides many other health benefits that help prevent other diseases. Exercise plays an important role as well by improving glucose and fat metabolism, blood pressure and weight loss.(4) For many people, a modest reduction in weight (10-15%) can significantly reduce the risk of developing diabetes.

So whether you or a loved one has been diagnosed with prediabetes or type 2 diabetes, I hope this information is helpful in understanding what these conditions mean, what the symptoms are, and the ways to manage them.

2 thoughts on “Prediabetes vs Type 2 Diabetes”

Comments are closed.