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Impaired glucose tolerance

Impaired glucose tolerance: Introduction

Prediabetes is a condition that is marked by high blood sugar levels. IN prediabetes, blood sugar levels, also called glucose levels, are higher than normal, but not considered high enough to qualify as type 2 diabetes. Prediabetes is however, a risk factor for the development of type 2 diabetes. In the U.S. about one in four adults over the age of 20 years has prediabetes, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The consequences of prediabetes can be serious. At this time most people with prediabetes do go on to develop type 2 diabetes within about 10 years. People with prediabetes are also at risk for developing cardiovascular disease. In these conditions, abnormally high levels of glucose in the blood, also called hyperglycemia, damages the body's blood vessels.

Left unchecked, this process can lead to many complications that affect nearly every organ in the body. These include kidney failure, diabetic retinopathy and blindness, peripheral neuropathy, kidney failure, serious skin infections, gangrene, stroke, disability, osteoporosis, Alzheimer's disease, hearing damage, hyperosmolar hyperglycemic nonketotic syndrome, and death.

Prediabetes develops when the body does not respond to the effects of the hormone insulin. This is known as insulin resistance. In addition, some people with prediabetes also may not produce sufficient amounts of insulin in the pancreas.

The role of insulin is to facilitate movement of sugar (glucose) from the bloodstream into the body's cells, where it is used for energy. Insulin also helps the liver to store excess glucose. When the body cannot process and use glucose properly, the body's cells do not get the energy they need. Medically, this is known as an inability to metabolize glucose, which results in hyperglycemia.

The good news is that if prediabetes is diagnosed and treated promptly, hyperglycemia can be often be reversed, minimizing the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and other serious complications. However, prediabetes may be difficult to recognize because it often has no symptoms, which is why it is important to receive regular medical care throughout your lifetime to screen for the condition. For details on misdiagnosis, refer to misdiagnosis of prediabetes.

Prediabetes is easy to diagnose during a routine office visit with a simple blood test, called a fasting blood glucose test, which will detect hyperglycemia. High levels of glucose can also be quickly detected with a random blood glucose test or an oral glucose tolerance test. The newest form of testing for diabetes is the glycated hemoglobin (A1C) test, which measures the average overall blood sugar for the past several months.

When symptoms of prediabetes do occur they may include fatigue, excessive thirst, and excessive urination. For more details on symptoms, refer to symptoms of type 2 diabetes.

Prediabetes can also often be prevented by maintaining a healthy weight and being physically active. The exact cause of prediabetes is unknown, but having excessive fat, especially around the waist and living a sedentary lifestyle are major risk factors. Other risk factors include having hypertension or high cholesterol. Additional risk factors include having a personal history of gestational diabetes, age over 45 years, a family history of type 2 diabetes or cardiovascular disease, or having an African-American, Native American, Asian-American, or Hispanic ancestry.

Treatment of prediabetes includes regular monitoring of blood sugar levels, eating a well-balanced healthy diet, regular exercise, weight loss as needed, and for some people, medications. For more information on treatment, refer to treatment of prediabetes. ...more »

Impaired glucose tolerance: Impaired Glucose Tolerance (IGT) means you have some problems with your sugar processing, but you don't (yet) have full diabetes. It is almost a "pre-diabetes" disease and seems very similar to a very mild form of Type 2 diabetes. However, IGT is below the official thresholds for diabetes, so you are not officially diabetic. ...more »

Impaired glucose tolerance: Animations

Impaired glucose tolerance: Broader Related Topics


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