Prediabetes is a health condition in which you have higher blood sugar levels than normal but not high enough to be considered diabetes.
People with prediabetes have up to a 50% chance of developing diabetes over the next five to 10 years. But you can take steps to prevent Type 2 diabetes from developing.
If you have risk factors for prediabetes, talk to your healthcare provider about getting your blood sugar checked regularly. These prediabetes checks are essential because prediabetes often has no symptoms. You can have it for years and not know it.
You may also be at higher risk of prediabetes due to:
Some risk factors for prediabetes can be modified, meaning you can change them. These include:
Having prediabetes means you are more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes. But it also puts you at increased risk of:
About 88 million American adults have prediabetes. It affects more than 1 in 3 adults under age 65 and half of people over 65. More than 84% of those with prediabetes don’t even know they have it since prediabetes often has no symptoms.
Your pancreas produces a hormone called insulin. Insulin allows blood sugar (glucose) into your cells so your body can use it as energy. In prediabetes, your cells don’t respond to insulin as they should.
In the prediabetes cycle:
Researchers don’t understand exactly what causes cells to become insulin resistant. But it’s possible that carrying excess weight and being physically inactive contribute:
Many people have no symptoms of prediabetes, often for years. Prediabetes may be invisible until it develops into Type 2 diabetes.
Some people with prediabetes may experience:
To test for prediabetes, your healthcare provider will use a blood test. You may have:
You would be diagnosed with prediabetes if:
Healthcare providers usually don’t test for insulin resistance. The test that exists is complex and used mainly for research.
The best way to treat diabetes is through healthy lifestyle changes. Eating a nutritious diet and getting regular exercise can help prevent or delay Type 2 diabetes.
Even small changes can significantly lower your risk for developing Type 2 diabetes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends:
Lowering your risk factors for prediabetes can often get your blood sugar levels back to healthy levels. You might:
Your healthcare provider may prescribe metformin, a diabetes medication. It may help delay diabetes in people with prediabetes.
If diabetes or other metabolic conditions run in your family, talk to your healthcare provider. They can recommend steps to try to prevent prediabetes from developing.
Prediabetes increases your risk of having diabetes, heart disease and stroke. But you can take steps to lower your risk.
Talk to your healthcare provider about how you can stay healthy, including:
Reversing prediabetes is possible by making lifestyle changes. Many people can prevent or delay Type 2 diabetes by losing weight, increasing physical activity and following a healthy diet. There are many programs available to help people live healthy lives and reverse prediabetes symptoms. To find a plan that works for you, talk to your healthcare provider or find resources through the National Diabetes Prevention Program (see references).
To manage prediabetes:
Diabetes — and prediabetes — can increase your risk of vision loss. Prediabetes can cause retinopathy. This change to your eye’s structure can lead to vision loss. See your eye doctor if you notice blurry vision, which can be a sign of retinopathy or another condition.
Even if you have no prediabetes symptoms, get a dilated eye exam every year. And talk to your healthcare provider about getting tested for prediabetes if you are older than 45 and have excess weight.
If you are at risk for diabetes or prediabetes, ask your healthcare provider:
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Prediabetes is a common condition. It means your blood sugar levels are high but not high enough to be considered diabetes. You may not have any prediabetes symptoms. It’s important to talk to your healthcare provider about getting regular blood tests, including an A1C test, especially if you’re high risk.
The good news is that you can reverse prediabetes. Losing weight and exercising, along with other lifestyle changes, can bring your blood sugar levels back to a healthy range. Talk to your healthcare provider about how you can prevent or delay Type 2 diabetes.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 03/25/2021.