Prediabetes means you have higher than normal blood sugar levels. Unmanaged prediabetes can lead to Type 2 diabetes. Prediabetes doesn’t always have symptoms, so it’s important to get blood sugar levels tested, especially if you’re at high risk. Losing weight, exercising regularly and eating healthy can reverse prediabetes and prevent Type 2 diabetes.

People with prediabetes have up to a 50% chance of developing diabetes over the next five to 10 years. But you can take steps to prevent Type 2 diabetes from developing.

Are you at risk for Prediabetes?

Getting your blood sugar checked regularly is essential to the detection of Prediabetes as it often has no symptoms.

You may be at higher risk of Prediabetes due to:

Some risk factors for prediabetes can be modified, meaning you can change them, that include:

How common is prediabetes?

About 88 million American adults have prediabetes. It affects more than 1 in 3 adults under age 65 and half of people over 65. More than 84% of those with prediabetes don’t even know they have it since prediabetes often has no symptoms.

What causes prediabetes?

Your pancreas produces a hormone called insulin. Insulin allows blood sugar (glucose) into your cells so your body can use it as energy. In prediabetes, your cells don’t respond to insulin as they should.

In the prediabetes cycle:

  1. Cells become insulin resistant. They have a sluggish or low response to insulin.
  2. Your pancreas makes more insulin, trying to get the cells to respond.
  3. For a while, the extra insulin makes up for the weak response. Blood sugar levels stay normal.
  4. Eventually, your pancreas can’t keep up production. Extra glucose stays in your blood instead of entering your cells.
  5. Your blood sugar keeps rising. At this point, a blood test may show prediabetes.
  6. Without treatment, you can end up with Type 2 diabetes.

How is prediabetes treated?

The best way to treat diabetes is through healthy lifestyle changes. Eating a nutritious diet and getting regular exercise can help prevent or delay Type 2 diabetes.

Even small changes can significantly lower your risk for developing Type 2 diabetes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends:

  • Weight loss: Losing 5% to 7% of your body weight can have an impact. For example, a 200-pound person who loses 10 to 14 pounds could see a significant health improvement.
  • Regular activity: Aim for 30 minutes a day, five days a week, for a total of 150 minutes a week. Try walking or another activity you enjoy.

Lowering your risk factors for prediabetes can often get your blood sugar levels back to healthy levels.

Prediabetes increases your risk of having diabetes, heart disease and stroke. But you can take steps to lower your risk.

Reversing prediabetes is possible by making lifestyle changes. Many people can prevent or delay Type 2 diabetes by losing weight, increasing physical activity and following a healthy diet.