Being borderline diabetic is pretty painless. It's an invisible club, and you probably weren't aware when you slipped into it. In fact, the club itself is hard to define. Here's how you became a member, and how to get out.
If there were borderline diabetes symptoms that could serve as warning signs, the prediabetes club would lose members fast.
The problem is that the trip from normal to borderline diabetic begins with high blood sugar. How do you know if it is high, and what is normal?
A good way to find out if you are in this club, although it takes several hours, is the glucose tolerance test or GTT. It will give you a very accurate picture of your blood sugar levels.
The quickest way to find out if you are borderline diabetic is a fasting blood test. After you've fasted 8 hours or overnight, you visit your doctor to get a fingerstick test.
The nurse will prick a finger to get a drop of blood, and the blood is placed on a little test strip attached to a glucose monitor.
In just a few seconds the monitor beeps and up pops a number. If that number is under 100, you are considered normal, although the absolutely perfect number is 80.
If the number is over 100 but under 125 you are probably borderline diabetic, though you might want to get the test done a couple of times to be sure.
If it is over 125 you are going to begin treatment because that number means you're a type 2 diabetic.
Target levels for your blood pressure will now be lower. That's because your risk for heart disease just tripled
But if you are in the area of 100-125 you are what is now called prediabetic, a term doctors prefer to call you instead of borderline diabetic.
You will be given a low calorie diet if you are not at your target weight, and they will talk about exercise and eating less sugar.
They may also give you information on the glycemic index that teaches you ways to change what you eat to lower your blood sugar.
You'll be told to watch for diabetes symptoms like polydipsia (being thirsty all the time) and polyuria (urinating more often than you used to). They will warn you about low blood sugars and hyperglycemia.
You'll hear some good news too. If you start a diabetic diet and increase your level of exercise there's a big chance you can avoid becoming diabetic.
That's because bringing blood pressure and cholesterol into safe numbers and losing weight means you don't have metabolic syndrome anymore.
And that is what kicks many people out of the borderline diabetic club. Metabolic syndrome has been linked to insulin resistance, which in turn leads to type 2 diabetes.
So if you can keep exercise and good eating habits up, and learn to avoid the hidden sugars in processed foods, you may never become diabetic, even if you have other risk factors.
But like everything in life, it isn't always that simple. We have not learned how to outsmart genetics yet, and until that day the possibility of type 2 diabetes remains for some of us.
It is easy to let fear of becoming diabetic turn you into a numbers chaser. If you spend your time going after perfect blood sugars you will stress out every time the number goes up.
It is much better to concentrate on the bigger picture.
Remember that high blood sugar is whatever is above the normal amount of sugar in your blood at different times. Before a meal it ought to be lower, and after a meal it is temporarily higher.
Blood sugar should return to normal levels within two or three hours after eating. An hour after supper a blood sugar of 180 is not unusual, but before supper it ought to be under 100.
Bear in mind that many things can affect blood sugar, not just food. Stress, viruses, fever, and infections are a few of the things that cause blood sugar to be hard to control.
If you worry about type 2 diabetes, you could watch for early symptoms like peripheral neuropathy. But it's just too hard to catch diabetes that way. It would be better to learn the risk factors for borderline diabetics.
The main cause of the chronic high blood sugar that is borderline diabetes is insulin resistance. And the connection to metabolic syndrome is the biggest factor, although researchers are taking a hard look at inflammatory disease as the real cause.
If your blood tests say you are prediabetic it's time to evaluate what you'd be willing to change to get out of the borderline diabetic club.
The one simple thing you could change besides doing more exercise might be making real changes in the way you eat.
Lots of people live on one big meal a day and eat snacks or nothing the rest of the time. That's okay if your pancreas is healthy, I suppose. But if it's not?
One of the best things any of us who have hypoglycemia, hyperglycemia, borderline diabetes or diabetes can do is this: eat smaller, more frequent meals.
That immediately takes the pressure off of the pancreas because the beta cells do not have to produce a large amount of insulin all at once.
And it also smooths out the highs and lows caused by slow response or over response of those cells.
And if you avoid fast food your diet will have fewer hidden sugars and advanced glycation end products, or AGEs that are in packaged meals.
No matter what your blood sugar is now or how you change your lifestyle, there is no guarantee that you can forget about type 2 diabetes.
It's a quiet, hidden condition, and there are genetic things going on that no one completely understands.
So keep getting your blood tested. And don't stop doing the good things that will help keep you out of insulin resistance and out of the borderline diabetic club.
[Go back to the top]Return to the home page for a diabetic life from borderline diabetic
Prediabetes and obesity go hand in hand to lead to type 2 diabetes. Here is why going on a diet is not the answer.
Take this diabetes risk test because you don't need to be one of the six million who have type 2 diabetes without knowing it.
Diabetes and sleep apnea are connected because sleep apnea causes insulin resistance, the beginning of type 2 diabetes. And type 1 diabetics have sleep apnea too. Find out what it is and why you should care.
PCOS, prediabetes and polycystic ovarian syndrome, their inflammatory link and the diet that helps both.
The big five borderline diabetes symptoms, if you know them you'll have a head start in avoiding type 2 diabetes.
The glucose tolerance test, the best way to diagnose prediabetes, type 2 and gestational diabetes.
Insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome, the early warning for type 2 diabetes.
Hyperinsulinemia, a big word for too much insulin, and how it leads to type 2 diabetes.
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