Understanding Prediabetes: Signs, Symptoms and Treatment

Prediabetes doesn’t have to progress to type 2 diabetes. Find out what the condition means and how you can keep your blood sugar levels in check.​

What is Prediabetes?

Healthcare professionals sometimes refer to prediabetes as impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) or impaired fasting glucose (IFG), or both, depending on the type of test used for detection and diagnosis.

“Before people develop type 2 diabetes, almost all [of them] pass through the stage of prediabetes where [their] blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not high enough to be considered as frank or overt diabetes,” says Dr Goh Su Yen, Head and Senior Consultant, Department of Endocrinology, Singapore General Hospital (SGH), a member of the SingHealth group.

Having prediabetes means that you are likely to develop type 2 diabetes in the near future. You can, however, take steps to reduce these risks.

Are There Any Symptoms of Prediabetes?

There are no clear symptoms of prediabetes. The only reliable method of diagnosis is to have blood tests done.

Some people may experience a few symptoms associated with diabetes, such as:
- Excessive thirst and frequent urination
- Fatigue
- Weight loss
- Blurred vision

Diagnosing Prediabetes: How to Tell If I Have It?


Normal​ Prediabetes Diabetes
Fasting glucose < 6.1 mmol/L 6.1-6.9 mmol/L >7.0 mmol/L
Two-hour plasma glucose level after oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT)* < 7.8 mmol/L 7.8-11.0 mmol/L  >11.1mmol/L

*OGTT (oral glucose tolerance test): 75g of glucose is given to a patient after an overnight fast; blood glucose levels are checked (1) before the ingestion of glucose and (2) two hours after the ingestion of glucose

What Can I Do to Help Myself If I Have Prediabetes?

Lifestyle changes coupled with modest weight loss (five to 10 percent of body weight) and moderate-intensity physical activity (~30 minutes daily) are recommended.

How to Exercise

Strive for 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week, which may include brisk walking and strength training.

You should start any new activity slowly, increasing the intensity levels and duration of each activity gradually as you become accustomed to the routine.

Other Lifestyle Tips

Eat healthily and sensibly, avoid fad diets, and get adequate sleep and rest.

It has been shown unequivocally that structured programmes and intensive lifestyle modification programmes can help people learn proper techniques, establish goals and stay motivated, and lead to a sustained reduction in the conversion of prediabetes to overt type 2 diabetes.

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