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Prediabetes can become diabetes over time.

More than one in three American adults has prediabetes, and nine out of 10 don’t know it. Prediabetes can be prevented by losing excess weight, staying active, and eating healthier.

A couple riding bikes to help prevent prediabetes.

What is prediabetes?

Prediabetes occurs when a person’s blood glucose (sugar) is higher than normal, but not yet high enough to be considered diabetes. Prediabetes may progress to Type 2 diabetes — a serious disease that can cause heart attack, stroke, blindness, kidney failure, or loss of the feet or legs.

Risk Factors for Prediabetes

You can have prediabetes for years and have no symptoms, so it often goes undetected until serious health problems such as Type 2 diabetes show up. Talk to your health care provider about having your blood sugar tested if you have any of the following risk factors for prediabetes:

  • Older age — especially over age 45
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Having a parent, brother, or sister with Type 2 diabetes
  • Having an African American, Hispanic/Latino, American Indian, Asian American, or Pacific Islander racial or ethnic background
  • Having a history of diabetes while pregnant (gestational diabetes)
  • Having given birth to a baby weighing 9 pounds or more
  • Having polycystic ovary syndrome
  • Being physically active less than three times a week

Symptoms

Prediabetes symptoms

Be aware of changes in your health. If you notice any of the following symptoms, talk to your health care provider. Prediabetes can be reversed if it’s diagnosed early.

  • Blurred vision — Spikes and dips in blood-sugar levels (common in prediabetes) can impair the eyes’ ability to bend or focus, resulting in blurred vision.
  • Excessive thirst — This occurs as your body tries to flush out the higher sugar levels through more frequent urination, which can cause dehydration, making you thirsty.
  • Long healing times — High blood sugar slows circulation, so wounds or skin infections can take longer to heal.
  • Extreme fatigue — Prediabetes reduces your body’s ability to convert the glucose in your blood into energy, leaving you severely fatigued.
  • Sudden changes in weight — If the body can’t properly burn blood glucose for fuel, it seeks other fuel sources, such as body fat or muscle. Insulin resistance can make you feel hungry, leading to weight gain.

Type 2 diabetes can be delayed or prevented in people with prediabetes.

By losing excess weight, eating healthier, exercising or being more active, or taking medication prescribed by your health care provider, you can delay or prevent prediabetes from becoming diabetes. Being active is one of the best choices, because it can also lower your weight, blood pressure, and cholesterol level. If possible, try to walk for a half-hour, five days a week.

Could you have prediabetes?

Take the CDC Prediabetes Screening Test.

This simple quiz helps you learn if you should talk with your health care provider about having a blood test to measure your blood-glucose level.

Take the test

What is the National Diabetes Prevention Program?

The National Diabetes Prevention Program is an evidence-based program developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It is a yearlong lifestyle and behavior change program that, depending on where classes are held, meets weekly for four months, biweekly for two months, or monthly for six months. The key goals of the program are to:

  • Accumulate 150 minutes of activity per week
  • Lose 5% to 7% of body weight
Learn more