Prediabetes: Key Q&A

How often do people with diabetes have prediabetes first?

Nearly everyone with type 2 diabetes, which is by far the most common form of diabetes, has prediabetes first.

If I have prediabetes, does that mean I will get diabetes?

Not necessarily. People can take action to control or even resolve prediabetes.

Can I get type 1 diabetes if I have prediabetes?

No. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder in which the body mistakenly attacks its own pancreas. The pancreas then can no longer make insulin, a natural chemical needed to process blood sugar for energy. Type 2 diabetes, like prediabetes, is a metabolic disorder in which the body has trouble using insulin properly and blood sugar builds up.

It is possible, however, for people with type 1 diabetes to develop insulin resistance, a hallmark of prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. The development of insulin resistance in someone with type 1 diabetes is known as double diabetes. Scientists expect to see more and more cases of this because the obesity epidemic is hitting people with type 1 diabetes as well as the general population.

Will I get prediabetes from eating sugar?

Experts say you don't get prediabetes or diabetes just from eating sugar. But you probably already know that sugar is generally not good for you, and bad eating habits contribute to obesity, a major risk factor for prediabetes and the most common kind of diabetes, type 2 diabetes. Ask your doctor about a recommended eating plan. For most people it's okay to have an occasional sweet treat, but the vast majority of your calories should provide nutrition, not be empty.

Can prediabetes cause nerve damage and other problems that diabetes causes?

Recent research studies have shown prediabetes can cause more damage than many people once assumed. Scientists have learned that prediabetes can damage the nerves, blood vessels, eyes, kidneys and other organs.

Is there a cure for prediabetes?

Unlike most forms of diabetes, which doctors generally consider a chronic condition that can be managed rather than cured, prediabetes can be reversed in many cases. Even when blood sugar can't be brought back to the normal range, treatment can control the condition or delay the progression of prediabetes to type 2 diabetes.

Are there ways to keep prediabetes from developing?

You can reduce your risk of developing prediabetes by controlling your weight, exercising regularly and eating sensibly. It may also help to get enough sleep, manage stress and not smoke or abuse alcohol. Practicing good health habits doesn't mean you will definitely avoid prediabetes, because uncontrollable factors such as genes and age also contribute, but your chances will certainly be improved. In some cases a doctor may prescribe diabetes medications along with exercise and diet to treat prediabetes.

More answers to your questions: For additional information on prediabetes, visit the diabetes message board.

Reviewed by Nikheel Kolatkar, M.D.

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