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?
An accurate 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 the best picture of your blood sugar levels.
But the quick 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 your finger to put a drop of blood on a little test strip. She will take this to a glucose monitor.
In just a few seconds the monitor gives her a number. If that number is under 100, you are considered normal, although the perfect fasting number is 80.
If the number is over 100 but under 125 you are going to be labeled borderline diabetic, or prediabetic. It might be a good idea to get more than one blood check to be sure.
A number over 125 means you will begin treatment because you are now 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 your blood sugar is in the range of 100-125 you are prediabetic, a term doctors prefer instead of borderline diabetic.
You will be given a low calorie diet if you are not at your target weight, and they will talk to you about exercise and eating less sugar.
They may also give you information on the glycemic index that shows you ways to change what you eat to lower your blood sugar.
You may be warned to watch for diabetes symptoms like polydipsia (being thirsty all the time) and polyuria (urinating more often than you used to). They will talk about low blood sugars and hyperglycemia.
You will be given some good news too. If you start changing eating habits and increase your level of exercise there is a big chance you can avoid becoming diabetic.
Diet changes and exercise bring blood pressure and cholesterol down, and if you do this and lose weight too, you will not have metabolic syndrome anymore.
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 up exercise and good eating habits, and you 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 is not 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 your number goes up. It is much better to concentrate on the big picture.
Remember, high blood sugar is whatever is above the normal amount in your blood at different times. Before a meal it is lower, and after a meal it is 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 your 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 getting type 2 diabetes, you could watch for early symptoms like peripheral neuropathy. But it is just too hard to catch diabetes that way. You would do 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 root cause.
If your blood tests say you are prediabetic, it is time to evaluate what you are willing to change to get out of the borderline diabetic club.
The most effective thing you could change is to become more active. The next is to make real changes in the way you eat.
These days lots of people live on one big meal a day, eating snacks or nothing the rest of the time. That may be okay if your pancreas is healthy, I suppose. But if it is 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.
Right away that takes the pressure off of your pancreas because your beta cells no longer have to produce a large amount of insulin all at once.
This will also smooth out the highs and lows caused by slow response or over response of your pancreas.
Another great tip: simply avoid fast food, and you have eliminated all of the hidden sugars and advanced glycation end products, or AGEs that are in packaged meals.
No matter what your blood sugar number 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 with genetic things going on that no one completely understands yet.
So keep getting your blood tested. And never 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.
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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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