What is borderline diabetes?
Borderline diabetes, also called prediabetes, is a condition that develops before someone gets type 2 diabetes. It’s also known as impaired fasting glucose or glucose intolerance. It basically means your blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but they’re not quite high enough to be considered diabetes.
During the prediabetes phase, your pancreas usually still produces enough insulin in response to ingested carbohydrates. The insulin is less effective at removing the sugar from the bloodstream, though, so your blood sugar remains high. This condition is called insulin resistance.
If you have prediabetes, you should know you’re not alone. In 2015, it was estimated that 84.1 million people age 18 and older had the condition. That’s 1 in 3 Americans.
Having prediabetes doesn’t mean you’ll definitely develop diabetes. It is a warning of what could lie ahead, however. People with prediabetes have a 5 to 15-fold higher risk for type 2 diabetes than someone with normal blood sugar levels. Those chances increase if you don’t make any healthy changes to your diet or activity habits.
The following signs and symptoms indicate you may have borderline diabetes (prediabetes) that you should get checked out:
1. Increased urination and thirst. As your blood sugar rises your kidneys become overwhelmed and you begin to pass sugar in your urine. Your body takes fluid from normal tissues to help excrete the blood sugar from the body. This causes you to urinate more frequently and can lead to dehydration, and subsequently make you thirsty. As you drink more fluid you then subsequently will urinate more.
2. Headaches – A headache can develop due to elevated blood sugar levels and is considered an early sign of hyperglycemia (high blood glucose). The symptom gets worse as condition worsens.
3. Increased hunger (polyphagia): Due to extreme highs and lows in blood sugar levels, the body develops a sudden urge to eat. With borderline diabetes (prediabetes) your body begins to become resistant to insulin. You become more hungry because sugar is not able to enter cells. This can also lead to hunger even after just eating.
4. Dry mouth. This results primarily because increased urination and dehydration that result from elevated blood sugar levels as described above.
5. Tiredness. Fatigue in borderline diabetes (prediabetes) can be from a number of different causes. When your blood sugar is elevated your body is just not working properly. You do not use sugar appropriately, and a constant state of dehydration both contribute to the tiredness many borderline diabetics feal.
6. Vision problems: High blood sugar also affects the eyes. It changes the shape of the lens and eyes. As a result, your vision becomes blurry. You can see occasional flashes of light and the vision gets distorted. Initially, the changes to the eyes are reversible. However, if sugar levels stay high for a long period of time, this can cause permanent damage and can even lead to eyesight loss.
7. Itching. Dry itchy skin is not uncommon in patients with elevated blood sugars. Additionally, itching is common in the genital areas and lower legs. This is often due to dry skin that results from the previously mentioned dehydrated state that occurs in borderline diabetes (prediabetes).
8. Unexplained weight loss or weight gain: As insulin can’t get glucose into the cells, the body reacts as if it would be starving and starts using proteins from the muscles. Rapid, unexplained weight loss (10 to 20 pounds over a couple of months) is not healthy and requires further investigation. On the other hand, increased consumption of sugary foods can lead to weight gain.
9. Rash. Acanthosis nigricans is a brown to black hyper pigmentation of the skin. This is a benign condition that is commonly seen in obese patients that have insulin resistance. When your blood sugar gets under better control the rash may improve.
10. Numbness and tingling in hands and feet: This symptom is a result of nerve damage – neuropathy – that is connected with diabetes. Tingling and numbness in arms and feet can be accompanied by burning pain and swelling. If sugar levels are not brought down, the nerve damage can become permanent and presents a serious complication of diabetes named diabetic neuropathy.
11. Poor healing. A number of different factors contribute to poor wound healing in patients with elevated blood sugars. These range from decreased immune response to decreased function of the actual cells that heal the body. If you frequently have wounds that scene to take a long time to heal you need to be checked for borderline diabetes (prediabetes).
12. S3xual dysfunction. While some sexual dysfunction is common in increases as you get older, sexual dysfunction is more common with elevated blood sugars. This is generally not a symptom of borderline diabetes (prediabetes) because the high blood sugar sugar levels leading to nervous and cardiovascular changes generally take many years to develop. However, elevated blood sugar levels can lead to dryness in the genital area making s3x uncomfortable.
13. Yeast infections: Since bacteria and fungi thrive in a sugary environment, infections can become more common. The most frequent ones are yeast infections, such as candida, especially vaginal candida infections in women.
If you’re experiencing any of the signs of borderline diabetes (prediabetes), let your healthcare provider know.