Pre-Diabetes Basics

by John Riddle Patient Expert

Risks, symptoms, diagnosis and prevention


Pre-diabetes is a health condition that carries no symptoms. Commonly referred to as "impaired glucose tolerance," approximately 54 million people in the United States twenty years and older have this condition. And although their blood glucose levels are higher than they should be, they are not at the level to be classified as diabetes. People develop this condition, and if it goes undiagnosed, it can lead to the more serious type 2 diabetes. Medical research has revealed that people with pre-diabetes may already be suffering some damage to their heart and circulatory system.

Who is at risk?

Certain population groups have a higher risk of diabetes, type 2 diabetes, and pre-diabetes. For example, diabetes affects Hispanics, Native Americans, African Americans and Asian Americans. In addition, seniors are also considered high risk for various types of diabetes. Doctors are now more cautious when they suspect a patient may be at risk for diabetes, because of serious medical complications.

People should be tested to see if they have pre-diabetes if they fall into any of these categories:

  • 45 years or older

  • Family history of diabetes

  • Exhibit risk factors of diabetes

  • Are in a high risk population group

  • Have an abnormal glucose tolerance level

  • Delivered a baby over 9 pounds and/or have a history of gestational diabetes

  • Are overweight

  • Have high cholesterol

Symptoms of pre-diabetes

Because there are no separate symptoms of pre-diabetes, people with symptoms of diabetes should be tested if they suffer from an unusual thirst, frequent urination, blurred vision or extreme periods of fatigue. Your doctor will order the proper medical tests, which will reveal if you are at risk of pre-diabetes.

How is pre-diabetes diagnosed?

To determine if you have pre-diabetes, your doctor can perform two different blood tests - the fasting plasma glucose (FPG) test and the oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT).

Prevention and treatment

It is possible to prevent and treat pre-diabetes at the same time by following these guidelines:

  • Eat a healthy diet each day

  • Avoid junk and snack foods

  • Exercise at least 30 minutes a day

  • If you smoke, stop

  • If you don't smoke, don't start

  • Monitor your blood pressure

  • Watch your cholesterol levels

John Riddle
Meet Our Writer
John Riddle

John wrote for HealthCentral as a patient expert for Allergies, Anxiety Disorders, Diabetes, Erectile Dysfunction, and Sleep Disorders.