You may have heard the word prediabetes in the news, or been told by your doctor that you have prediabetes.
Prediabetes is not a clinical term recognised by the World Health Organisation. But it’s starting to be used more by healthcare professionals and in the media to describe people who are at high risk of type 2 diabetes.
Here we talk through what prediabetes means, if there are any symptoms of prediabetes and what you can do to reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes.
What is prediabetes?
Prediabetes means that your blood sugars are higher than usual, but not high enough for you to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. It also means that you are at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes. You may not be experiencing any symptoms with prediabetes.
Prediabetes is also called:
- borderline diabetes
- Impaired Fasting Glucose (IFG)
- Impaired Glucose Tolerance (IGT)
- Impaired Glucose Regulation (IGR)
- Non-diabetic hyperglycaemia
They all mean the same thing. So if you’ve been told you have any of these, knowing this is the first step to being able to do something about it. And there are lots of things you can do to reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes.
If you're worried about prediabetes you could call your GP and ask for a blood test. The test will be checking your HbA1C levels which is your average blood glucose (sugar) levels for the last two to three months. If you're at risk of developing type two diabetes your target range HbA1C level should be below 42mmol/mol (6%).
Prediabetes and the risk of type 2 diabetes
Prediabetes is a warning sign that you are at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The good news is you don’t have it yet, and there are lots of things you can do to prevent or delay type 2 diabetes from developing.
"Your first question might be ‘does this mean I have type 2 diabetes?’, ‘does this mean I’ll definitely get type 2 diabetes?’ or even ‘does this mean I’m in the clear?’ The answer to all of these is no. You don’t have type 2 diabetes at the moment, but you do need to act now if you want to try and avoid it."
Simon O’Neill, Diabetes UK’s Director of Healthcare and Professional Liaison
What are the symptoms of prediabetes?
Prediabetes doesn’t have any symptoms. If you start to have any of the symptoms of type 2 diabetes it means you have probably already developed it. So it’s important to know the risk factors and what you can do to prevent or delay type 2 diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes risk factors
You are more at risk of developing type 2 diabetes if some or all of the risk factors apply to you. Our Know Your Risk online tool only takes a couple of minutes to complete. If your results show that you are at moderate or high risk, you could be eligible for a free place on Healthier You, the Diabetes Prevention Programme for England.
At the moment 12.3 million people are at increased risk of type 2 diabetes in the UK. But some risk factors can be changed and it’s important to make healthy lifestyles choices to limit your risk.
You may be eligible for a free NHS Health Check which will check for health conditions including type 2 diabetes.
Preventing type 2 diabetes
By making changes to diet, increasing physical activity and losing weight, about half of type 2 diabetes cases can be prevented or delayed in some people
We’ve got lots of information on where to start with moving more to reduce your risk.