What is pre-diabetes?

What is pre-diabetes?

Defined by higher than normal glucose levels, pre-diabetes is a condition that more than two million Australians are currently living with. With glucose levels not high enough to be diagnosed with diabetes type two, people living with pre-diabetes must maintain their already increased levels to ensure an advanced stage of diabetes does not become a reality for them. During the process of digestion, the food we eat turns into sugar, with the body using this sugar for energy. In a normal functioning body, the pancreas creates insulin which allows blood sugar to pass into the body’s cells. In an abnormal body, when the body cannot use insulin in the correct way, sugar remains in the blood rather than moving into the cells, and this is defined by Insulin Resistance. This sugar – or glucose – builds up in the body and leads to the development of pre-diabetes. Characterised by a range of symptoms, a GP can diagnose pre-diabetes with a simple blood test called an Oral Glucose Tolerance Testing (OGTT). By testing Fasting Plasma Glucose (FPG), the OGTT analyses the blood for glucose levels, and takes approximately two hours to conclude. By drinking a sweet drink with a measured amount of glucose present, the test checks a patient’s fasting blood glucose level to support pre-diabetes symptoms such as:

  • Increased appetitepre-diabetes symptoms - Graph
  • An increased thirst
  • Gum inflammation
  • Unexplainable weight loss
  • A recognisable increase in fatigue
  • Increased urination
  • Headaches
  • Blurred vision
  • Dry mouth
  • Frequent urinary tract infections
  • Cuts that won’t heal

Pre-diabetes increases the risk of the patient developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and suffering from a stroke. Almost as a warning sign to prevent diabetes, pre-diabetes can be characterised by in fact two sub-conditions – Impaired Glucose Tolerance (IGT) and Impaired Fasting Glucose (IFG). Let’s look at both conditions – in patients with IGT, glucose levels are high – but not high enough to be diagnosed with diabetes. IFG sees patients with high glucose levels present only in the state of fasting. Again, these levels are not high enough to be classed as diabetes. Patients can have both IGT and IFG, but in all cases of those living with the condition, a healthy lifestyle must be maintained to ensure the condition does not worsen.

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