What You Need To Know- Borderline Diabetes
- Diabetes does not just develop overnight.
- Borderline diabetes may have no symptoms at all, or you may experience 1 or more of the symptoms described below.
- You can prevent diabetes if you identify borderline diabetes early.
What You Need To Do- Borderline Diabetes
- If you have any of the symptoms described below then get checked out by your health care provider.
- If you are in a high risk group than you also should be screen for prediabetes, even if you do not have symptoms.
I was stopped at a local function recently and the person I was speaking to told me she was recently diagnosed with borderline diabetes. My acquaintance was very concerned because she read and heard about many of the complications of diabetes; and she wanted to know what this meant for her.
She asked me things like “do I need to check my blood sugar all the time now,” “do I need to eat differently,” and “am I going to have to start taking medications?” While I discuss the answers to many of these particular questions in a previous post, I am always struck, in this day of the news coverage of obesity and the diabetes epidemic, how many people have not heard of borderline diabetes and its complications.
What Is Borderline Diabetes?
Actually, there is no medical diagnosis called “borderline diabetes.” Rather, borderline diabetes refers to a medical condition called prediabetes. This is when your blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not yet high enough to be diagnosed with type II diabetes. People with borderline diabetes or prediabetes are more likely to develop type II diabetes and may already have some of the signs or symptoms of diabetes.
Many times patients with borderline diabetes (prediabetes) will not have any signs or symptoms. The following signs and symptoms indicate you may have borderline diabetes (prediabetes) that you should get checked out:
1. Increased urination and thirst. As your blood sugar rises your kidneys become overwhelmed and you begin to pass sugar in your urine. Your body takes fluid from normal tissues to help excrete the blood sugar from the body. This causes you to urinate more frequently and can lead to dehydration, and subsequently make you thirsty. As you drink more fluid you then subsequently will urinate more.
2. Hunger. With borderline diabetes (prediabetes) your body begins to become resistant to insulin. You become more hungry because sugar is not able to enter cells. This can also lead to hunger even after just eating.
3. Dry mouth. This results primarily because increased urination and dehydration that result from elevated blood sugar levels as described above.
4. Tiredness. Fatigue in borderline diabetes (prediabetes) can be from a number of different causes. When your blood sugar is elevated your body is just not working properly. You do not use sugar appropriately, and a constant state of dehydration both contribute to the tiredness many borderline diabetics feal.
5. Visual changes. Elevated blood sugar causes changes in the eye that can make it more difficult to see. In general, the lenses of the eye can become distorted and stiff- making it more difficult to focus. Over the long term there are a number of different complications to the high if diabetes is not well controlled.
6. Itching. Dry itchy skin is not uncommon in patients with elevated blood sugars. Additionally, itching is common in the genital areas and lower legs. This is often due to dry skin that results from the previously mentioned dehydrated state that occurs in borderline diabetes (prediabetes).
7. Weight changes. Significant weight changes are more common in type I compared to type II diabetics. However, if you have lost weight or if you feel hungry all the time you should let your doctor know and get tested for borderline diabetes (prediabetes).
8. Rash. Acanthosis nigricans is a brown to black hyper pigmentation of the skin. This is a benign condition that is commonly seen in obese patients that have insulin resistance. When your blood sugar gets under better control the rash may improve.
9. Numbness in the hands and feet. High blood sugar levels over long periods of time can damage your nervous system. This can result in decrease in sensation and feelings of numbness and tingling in the hands and feet. This is also known as neuropathy. Decreased sensation in the feet can also contribute to frequent injury and development of diabetic foot ulcers.
10. Poor healing. A number of different factors contribute to poor wound healing in patients with elevated blood sugars. These range from decreased immune response to decreased function of the actual cells that heal the body. If you frequently have wounds that scene to take a long time to heal you need to be checked for borderline diabetes (prediabetes).
11. Sexual dysfunction. While some sexual dysfunction is common in increases as you get older, sexual dysfunction is more common with elevated blood sugars. This is generally not a symptom of borderline diabetes (prediabetes) because the high blood sugar sugar levels leading to nervous and cardiovascular changes generally take many years to develop. However, elevated blood sugar levels can lead to dryness in the genital area making sex uncomfortable.
What Do I Do If I Have Symptoms of Borderline Diabetes (Prediabetes)?
If you’re experiencing any of the signs of borderline diabetes (prediabetes), let your healthcare provider know.
- Am I at Risk for Type 2 Diabetes? National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse. Accessed March 16, 2013. http://diabetes.niddk.nih.gov/dm/pubs/riskfortype2/index.aspx#3
- Diabetes Basics: Symptoms. American Diabetes Association. Accessed March 16, 2013. http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/symptoms/