Determining Pre Diabetes versus Diabetes

Determining Pre Diabetes versus Diabetes

Low blood sugar is called hypoglycemia. This condition is often diagnosed in "symptom-free" people who are developing adult-onset diabetes. The pancreas in pre-diabetes is not able to adequately regulate the amount of insulin needed to balance blood sugar following a meal-and can actually produce too much insulin in response to high sugar intake. Medical management can often reverse the development into full-blown diabetes.

Diagnosis of Pre-Diabetes

Three different blood glucose tests are often performed in people suspected of pre-diabetes. The most common one is the oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT). The patient is given glucose to drink, and a blood sample is taken two hour later to determine blood glucose level. The fasting plasma glucose test (FPG) involves taking a blood sample to check the glucose level after a specified time period of complete fasting. The current "standard-bearer" for diagnosing diabetes is the Hemoglobin A1C test. This test measures the percentage of hemoglobin coated with glucose-so is able to measure blood glucose control over a period of months.

Pre-diabetes is also termed "borderline" diabetes, and usually involves a change in diet. For borderline diabetics who are overweight, a diet that is lower in calories will typically be recommended. Weight loss can reverse the condition. However, the weight loss needs to be carefully managed under the direction of a licensed nutritionist. This is because extreme dieting can actually exacerbate the problem of hypoglycemia.

Pregnant Women and Pre-Diabetes

Women in the second trimester of pregnancy can develop pre-diabetic symptoms. This is a very serious condition, since gestational diabetes is linked to miscarriage. According to the American Diabetes Association, gestational diabetes occurs in approximately 18 percent of pregnancies. Treatment usually consists of diet modification, exercise, and insulin. An article in 2009 inAmerican Family Physician entitled, "Diagnosis and Management of Gestational Diabetes Mellitus" reported that screening of pregnant women occurs in more than 90 percent of obstetrical practices [Salen et al. 80(1):57-62]. However, many women do not receive consistent prenatal care.

Pregnant women with gestational diabetes should not attempt to lose weight. However, a high weight gain during pregnancy can predispose to developing gestational diabetes. Additionally, overweight women who become pregnant are at higher risk for this disorder.

Diet and Pre-Diabetes

Reducing consumption of refined sugar is a good idea to prevent the development of pre-diabetes or diabetes. Following a diagnosis of borderline diabetes, it is imperative to monitor diet for life so as not to advance to diabetes.