What is pre-diabetes?

Pre-diabetes can be prevented.

Diabetes is a disease where the sugar we need for energy, called glucose, does not enter the cells that need it. Most of the food we eat is turned into glucose or sugar for our bodies to use as energy. The pancreas, an organ that lies near the stomach, makes a hormone called insulin to help sugar or glucose get into the cells of our bodies. When you have diabetes, your body either does not make enough insulin or cannot use its own insulin as well as it should, this causes sugar to build up in your blood and can cause many problems. You can read more about the disease diabetes through the Center for Disease Control (CDC) or Michigan State University Extension.

Pre-diabetes is commonly called borderline diabetes and occurs when glucose levels start to rise but are not yet high enough to be considered diabetes. The body has become increasingly resistant to insulin. While diabetes and pre-diabetes occur in people of all ages and races, some groups have a higher risk for developing the disease than others. Diabetes is more common in African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans and Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders, as well as the aged population. This means they are also at increased risk for developing pre-diabetes.

There are three different tests your doctor can use to determine whether you have pre-diabetes:

  • The A1C test is a blood test that gives the average amount of glucose in the blood over the past three to four months
  • The fasting plasma glucose test (FPG) requires a person to fast overnight. The blood glucose is measured first thing in the morning before eating.
  • The oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) requires a person to fast overnight. The person's blood glucose is checked after fasting and again two hours after drinking a glucose-rich drink.

The blood glucose levels measured after these tests determine whether you have a normal metabolism or whether you have pre-diabetes or diabetes.

If your blood glucose level is abnormal following the FPG, you have impaired fasting glucose (IFG) or a high glucose level; if your blood glucose level is abnormal following the OGTT, you have impaired glucose tolerance (IGT ) which is also a high glucose level. Both are also known as pre-diabetes.

Michigan State University Extension offers programming for those at risk of or who have pre-diabetes. Michigan Diabetes Preventions course, PATH and Dining with Diabetes help those manage their symptoms to prevent the onset of diabetes and/or manage their condition.

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