Prediabetes: Key Q&A

What is prediabetes?

It's a condition in which blood sugar is above normal but not high enough for a diagnosis of diabetes.

How is it diagnosed?

Blood tests are used, generally the fasting plasma glucose test or the oral glucose tolerance test.

What are the diagnostic criteria for prediabetes?

The fasting plasma glucose test indicates prediabetes if your blood glucose is between 100 and 125 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL). The oral glucose tolerance test, which is performed after you drink a sweet solution, reveals prediabetes if your blood glucose two hours after drinking the solution is between 140 and 199 mg/dL. A reading below those levels is considered normal, and a higher reading is considered diabetic.

Should I be tested for prediabetes?

The American Diabetes Association recommends you be screened if you are age 45 or older. Some people like to keep track of their glucose level and request a glucose blood test when they see their doctor for a checkup. Your doctor may recommend that you have a glucose test even if you're under 45, especially if you have risk factors.

What are the risk factors for prediabetes?

In addition to age, things that increase your chances of developing prediabetes include being overweight, having high blood pressure, having a family history of prediabetes or type 2 diabetes, having given birth to a baby weighing more than 9 pounds, previously having gestational diabetes, or being a member of certain racial or ethnic groups (American Indian, black, Hispanic, Asian, Pacific Islander).

Is there a difference between prediabetes, impaired glucose tolerance and impaired fasting glucose?

Generally speaking, impaired glucose tolerance and impaired fasting glucose are synonyms for prediabetes, though some research scientists may use definitions that differentiate them slightly.

What about chemical diabetes, subclinical diabetes, latent diabetes or borderline diabetes?

These have also been used as alternate terms for prediabetes, but they're a bit vague and not exactly accurate, and they aren't used much anymore.

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