FAQs
Below you may find the answers you are looking for, but if you have further questions, don’t hesitate to talk to your healthcare provider.


What is prediabetes and what causes prediabetes?

What is prediabetes and how common is it?
1 in 3 American adults has prediabetes, but only 10 percent of them know they have it. Prediabetes means a person's blood glucose (sugar) level is higher than normal, but not high enough yet for a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes. People with prediabetes are on the road to developing type 2 diabetes and are also at increased risk for other serious health problems, such as stroke and heart disease. There are some prediabetes risks you can't control, like age and family history. But there are small things you can do to reduce your risk, such as increasing your physical activity and adjusting your diet. These small, doable actions can also help prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes. There usually aren't any symptoms when you have prediabetes.


Talk to your doctor to know for sure. A simple blood test can confirm if you have prediabetes. What causes prediabetes?
To answer that, we first need to define what insulin is. Insulin is a hormone made by your pancreas; it acts like a key to let blood sugar into cells for use as energy. If you have prediabetes, the cells in your body don't respond normally to insulin. Essentially, your pancreas makes more insulin to try to get the cells to respond. Eventually your pancreas can't keep up and your blood sugar rises, setting the stage for prediabetes—and type 2 diabetes down the road.


How close is prediabetes to type 2 diabetes?
Without making changes, many people with prediabetes will develop type 2 diabetes. If you have prediabetes, losing a small amount of weight and getting regular physical activity can significantly lower your risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Small changes in diet and exercise can go a long way. Studies show that losing just 5-7 percent of your body weight can help prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes. (For a person who weighs 200 pounds, that's just about 10-15 pounds.)

To discover more prediabetes risk factors, visit cdc.gov/diabetes/basics/risk-factors.html.

Could I have prediabetes?

Who is most at risk for prediabetes and type 2 diabetes?
If any of these apply to you, you're at risk for prediabetes and type 2 diabetes:
  • I have a family history of diabetes
  • I am over age 40
  • I am overweight
  • I have a history of gestational diabetes, diabetes or high blood sugar when pregnant
  • I have high blood pressure
  • I am Hispanic, African American, Asian, or Native American
  • I got a high score on the online risk test. Do I have prediabetes?
A high score on the online risk test means you likely have prediabetes. But only a blood test can tell you for sure, so talk to your doctor. Your doctor will do a simple blood test to check your blood sugar levels. If those levels are higher than normal, but not high enough yet to indicate type 2 diabetes, it means you do have prediabetes. But here's the good news: with early diagnosis, prediabetes can often be undone.


What are the symptoms and signs of prediabetes?
There aren't usually signs or symptoms when you have prediabetes. You can have prediabetes for years but have no clear symptoms, so prediabetes often goes undetected until serious health problems such as type 2 diabetes show up… all the more reason to take the online risk test and talk about it with your doctor.


What lab results indicate prediabetes?
Your doctor will know best when diagnosing prediabetes. Typically, prediabetes is when your A1C level is between 5.7 and 6.4 percent. (Above 6.4 is considered diabetes.) Prediabetes can also be diagnosed with a fasting blood sugar test. A result between 100 and 125 mg/dL is considered prediabetes (above 125 mg/dL is considered diabetes), and an oral glucose tolerance test 2-hour result between 140 and 199 mg/dL is considered prediabetes (above 199 mg/dL is considered diabetes).


Does my doctor screen for prediabetes in my annual physical exam?
Not necessarily. It's not guaranteed that your doctor is screening for prediabetes during your annual physical. If you have risk factors for prediabetes or type 2 diabetes, be sure to ask your doctor to include the test as part of your exam and discuss the results.

Interested in getting tested for prediabetes? Here's a breakdown of everything you need to know:
cdc.gov/diabetes/basics/getting-tested.html.

Preventing Type 2 Diabetes/Undoing Prediabetes

How can I undo prediabetes?
With early diagnosis, prediabetes can often be undone. It just takes making doable changes like eating healthier, getting exercise, and figuring out the best ways to manage stress and cope with real-life challenges.


What changes should I make in terms of diet and exercise?
Talk with your healthcare provider. He or she will be able to help you with nutritional help, which can set you on the right path to learn to eat healthy. Increasing your physical activity will also help tremendously. There are many ways to increase your physical activity that can also be a lot of fun, like taking dance lessons, going on a long walk with a friend, or joining a class at the gym.


What's the best way to undo prediabetes?
If you have prediabetes, losing a small amount of weight (if you're overweight) and getting regular physical activity can help undo prediabetes and lower your risk for developing type 2 diabetes. A small amount of weight loss means around 5 to 7 percent of your body weight (about 10 to 14 pounds for a 200-pound person). Regular physical activity means getting at least 150 minutes a week (that's just 30 minutes a day, five days a week) of brisk walking or a similar activity.


What is the treatment for prediabetes?
Your doctor will recommend a treatment plan for prediabetes to help prevent type 2 diabetes. Your doctor may also recommend coaching on how to make healthy changes. This might include moderate weight loss, changes to eating habits, and more exercise.

Type 1 vs. Type 2 Diabetes

What is the difference between type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes?
Type 1 diabetes is when your body makes very little insulin or no insulin at all and is typically diagnosed when a person is a child or young adult. People with type 1 diabetes require insulin shots or an insulin pump.

Type 2 diabetes is when your body cannot use the insulin it makes, and eventually does not make enough insulin. It is normally found in people who are overweight, have a family history of diabetes, do not get enough physical activity, and are middle-aged or older. Type 2 accounts for about 90-95 percent of all diabetes cases. Type 2 diabetes can sometimes be managed with lifestyle changes and/or medications, but many people require insulin shots.

What causes type 2 diabetes?

What is type 2 diabetes and how common is it?
Type 2 diabetes is a disease in which blood sugar levels are above normal. Most of the food we eat is turned into sugar for our bodies to use for energy. The pancreas, an organ that lies near the stomach, makes a hormone called insulin to help sugar get into the cells of our bodies. When you have diabetes, your body either doesn't make enough insulin or can't use its own insulin as well as it should. This causes sugar to build up in your blood, which over time can cause serious health problems, such as heart disease, blindness, kidney failure, and lower-limb amputations. Thirty million Americans have diabetes, and 1 out of 4 of them do not know they have it. Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States.


What are the most common long-term complications of type 2 diabetes?
People who have type 2 diabetes are at higher risk of serious health complications, including heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, blindness, and amputation of toes, feet or legs. Adults who have diabetes have a 50 percent higher risk of death than those who do not.


Is type 2 diabetes genetic?
Certain genetic factors can put you at higher risk for type 2 diabetes—but type 2 diabetes isn't inevitable and can often be prevented with doable lifestyle changes. You're at higher risk if you have a parent, brother, or sister with type 2 diabetes.


What causes type 2 diabetes?
To answer that, we first need to define what insulin is. Insulin is a hormone made by your pancreas; it acts like a key to let blood sugar into cells for use as energy. If you have type 2 diabetes, your cells don't respond normally to insulin. (This is called insulin resistance.) So, your pancreas makes more insulin to try to get the cells to respond. Eventually your pancreas can't keep up and your blood sugar rises, setting the stage for prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. Additionally, high blood sugar is damaging to the body and can cause other serious health problems, such as heart disease, blindness, kidney failure, and lower-limb amputations.

For more information on type 2 diabetes, visit the CDC's website.

How can I prevent type 2 diabetes?

How can I prevent type 2 diabetes?
If you have prediabetes or are at high risk for type 2 diabetes, it's important to talk with your healthcare provider or medical professional. He or she will recommend a treatment plan to help undo prediabetes and prevent or delay type 2 diabetes. In most cases this will include moderate weight loss, changes to eating habits, and increased physical activity. Your healthcare provider may also refer you to a local program for coaching on how to make these healthy changes.


How can I reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes?
You can lower your risk for type 2 diabetes by making healthy lifestyle changes, such as losing weight, eating healthier, and getting regular physical activity. A local, South Dakota-based program can help you make healthy changes that have lasting results.

For more information on how to prevent type 2 diabetes, visit the CDC's website.

How do I know if I have type 2 diabetes?

What are the symptoms of type 2 diabetes?
Sometimes there are no symptoms, or the symptoms are not obvious, which is why you should talk with your healthcare provider about your risk for type 2 diabetes. If someone's blood sugar level is very high, they may have blurry vision, feel thirsty, feel tired, and urinate frequently. Remember, you cannot rely on symptoms to know if you have type 2 diabetes. Talk to your healthcare provider.


How is type 2 diabetes diagnosed?
Type 2 diabetes is diagnosed using the same blood tests as those used for prediabetes.

Interested in getting tested for diabetes? The CDC has a breakdown of everything you need to know.

How is type 2 diabetes treated?

How is type 2 diabetes treated?
Unlike many health conditions, diabetes is managed mostly by you—with support from your doctor, healthcare team, family, and other important people in your life. Managing diabetes can be challenging, but everything you do to improve your health is worth it. You may be able to manage your type 2 diabetes with healthy eating and exercise. Your doctor may also prescribe insulin, other injectable medications, or oral diabetes medicines to help control your blood sugar and avoid complications. It's important to keep your blood pressure and cholesterol under control and to get necessary screening tests.


How often should blood sugar be checked?
If you have type 2 diabetes, your blood sugar levels need to be checked regularly. Ask your doctor how often you should check them and what your target blood sugar levels should be. Keeping your blood sugar levels as close as possible to the target will help you prevent or delay diabetes-related complications.


How can stress affect type 2 diabetes?
Increased stress levels can make managing type 2 diabetes harder—including added difficulty with controlling your blood sugar levels and dealing with daily diabetes care. Regular physical activity, getting enough sleep, and relaxation exercises can help. If you have type 2 diabetes, talk to your doctor and healthcare team about these and other ways you can manage stress.


How often should I see my healthcare provider to help manage type 2 diabetes?
If you have type 2 diabetes, it's important to meet with your healthcare team regularly to ensure you're on track with your treatment plan—and to get help with new strategies if needed. Whether you just got diagnosed with diabetes or have had it for some time, meeting with a diabetes educator is a great way to get support and guidance—including advice on how to monitor your blood sugar and overall health, manage stress, and give yourself insulin by syringe, pen, or pump if needed. If you have type 2 diabetes, ask your doctor about diabetes self-management education.


Can type 2 diabetes be reversed or cured?
There isn't a cure for type 2 diabetes yet. But healthy lifestyle habits, taking medicine as needed, getting diabetes self-management education, and keeping appointments with your healthcare team can greatly reduce its impact on your life. You may be able to manage your type 2 diabetes with healthy eating and being active; your doctor may prescribe oral diabetes medications, insulin, or other injectable medications to help control your blood sugar and avoid complications.

Visit the CDC's website for diabetes lifestyle tips.

Gestational Diabetes

What is gestational diabetes?
Gestational diabetes (sometimes called GDM) is a type of diabetes that can develop during pregnancy in women who don't already have diabetes. Every year, 2–10 percent of pregnancies in the United States are affected by gestational diabetes. Managing gestational diabetes will help make sure you have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby.


What causes gestational diabetes?
Gestational diabetes occurs when your body can't make enough insulin during your pregnancy. During pregnancy, your body makes more hormones and goes through other changes, such as weight gain. These changes cause your body's cells to use insulin less effectively, a condition called insulin resistance. Insulin resistance increases your body's need for insulin. All pregnant women have some insulin resistance during late pregnancy. However, some women have insulin resistance even before they get pregnant. They start pregnancy with an increased need for insulin and are more likely to have gestational diabetes.


What is the link between gestational diabetes and prediabetes or type 2 diabetes?
Gestational diabetes usually goes away after your baby is born—but having gestational diabetes puts you at higher risk for developing prediabetes and type 2 diabetes later. About 50 percent of women with gestational diabetes go on to develop type 2 diabetes. You can lower your risk by reaching and maintaining a healthy body weight after delivery. Visit your doctor to have your blood sugar tested 6 to 12 weeks after your baby is born and then every 1 to 3 years to make sure your levels are on target.

For more information about gestational diabetes, visit the CDC's website.

Blood Glucose (Sugar)

What is blood sugar?
Blood sugar, or glucose, is the main sugar found in your blood. It comes from the food you eat, and is your body's main source of energy. Your blood carries glucose to all of your body's cells to use for energy. Diabetes is a disease in which your blood sugar levels are too high. Over time, having too much glucose in your blood can cause serious problems.


What is the normal range for blood sugar?
Your doctor will help administer a blood glucose test. Normal levels for A1C tests are below 5.7 percent, and normal levels for a fasting blood glucose test are 99mg/dL or below.


What are the symptoms of high blood sugar?
Sometimes there are no symptoms, or the symptoms are not obvious, which is why you should talk with your doctor about your risk for type 2 diabetes. If someone's blood sugar level is very high, they may have blurry vision, feel thirsty, feel tired, and urinate frequently. Remember, you cannot rely on symptoms to know if you have type 2 diabetes. Talk to your doctor.


What are the effects of high blood sugar?
If you have diabetes, your body either doesn't make enough insulin or can't use the insulin it makes as well as it should. When there isn't enough insulin, or your cells stop responding to insulin, too much blood sugar stays in your bloodstream. Over time this can cause serious health problems, such as heart disease, vision loss, and kidney disease.


How can you lower your blood sugar?
You can lower your blood sugar (and risk for prediabetes and type 2 diabetes) by making healthy lifestyle changes such as losing weight, eating healthier, and getting regular physical activity. A local, South Dakota-based program can help you make healthy changes that have lasting results.

For information on how to monitor blood sugar, visit the CDC's website.