Prediabetes is a common condition. In the United States alone, about 1 in 3 people have it—but the majority of them don’t know it.
So receiving a diagnosis of prediabetes can be shocking and overwhelming. You may have never heard the term before, and you may have lots of questions about what the diagnosis means and what you should do next.
Oscar Camejo, the host of the Beating Diabetes Lifestyle Podcast, told the Preventing Type 2 Diabetes Podcast that he didn’t get much information from his doctor when he was diagnosed with prediabetes: “I was given a one-sheet document that said, hey start eating better and try to exercise so you can prevent type 2 diabetes.” To hear more from Oscar Camejo, tune into episode 2 of the Preventing Type 2 Diabetes Podcast here.
It can be helpful to go to your healthcare provider with a prepared list of questions, so you can get the information you need and feel confident about taking control of your health.
Here’s a handy guide of six questions you should be sure to ask.
1. What is my A1C, and what does it mean?
Prediabetes and type 2 diabetes are often diagnosed using a simple blood test that shows your average blood sugar level over the last three months. This test is known as a hemoglobin A1C test or, more simply, an A1C test. Your healthcare provider will be able to tell if you have prediabetes if your A1C test result falls in a certain range:
- Below 5.7% is normal
- Between 5.7% and 6.4% is considered prediabetic
- 6.5% or above is considered diabetic
Your healthcare provider may ask you to do an A1C test more than once or ask you to do other tests to confirm the diagnosis. Be sure to ask them what your final A1C result is and what it means for you—especially if it means that you are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
2. What signs and symptoms should I look out for?
In the Preventing Type 2 Diabetes Podcast, family nurse practitioner Ryan Aiazzi explains that prediabetes can be tricky to diagnose because people don’t often have symptoms. But many people may experience symptoms when their prediabetes gets worse and they start to develop type 2 diabetes. These symptoms can include feeling thirsty, feeling tired, blurred vision, and needing to go to the toilet more often.
Ask your healthcare provider what symptoms you should be aware of and what you should do if you start to notice any of them.
3. What are some healthy ways to lose weight and keep it off?
Being overweight or obese can raise your risk of prediabetes and type 2 diabetes, so maintaining a healthy weight can reduce your risk and help you manage any symptoms. If your healthcare provider is concerned about your weight, ask them for a plan to help lose the pounds and keep them off.
4. What changes should I make to my diet?
Eating a healthy, balanced diet is also crucial to reducing the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Ask your healthcare provider for help creating a diet plan. They will be able to tell you what foods you should be eating more of, which foods you should avoid, and they can give you resources where you can learn more.
You can also learn more about how food affects blood sugar in episode three of the Preventing Types 2 Diabetes Podcast. If you have trouble affording healthy food, you can also listen to episode four, where we share tips and ways to find resources in your area.
5. Could medication be right for me?
For some people, medication can be a helpful tool to help lose weight and manage other conditions like high cholesterol or high blood pressure. Ask your healthcare provider if your blood pressure or cholesterol could raise your risk of type 2 diabetes and if medication could be right for you. He or she will be able to talk to you about all your options and answer any questions you may have about side effects.
If you decide together that medication is right for you, you can also ask your pharmacist about how to take your medication properly. If you are prescribed a medication that is not covered by your insurance, your pharmacist can also recommend other options to discuss with your healthcare provider.
6. How can I find a type 2 diabetes prevention program?
There are plenty of support groups and resources to help you on your journey to better health. For example, ImpactDiabetes.org uses a combination of digital, in-person, and telehealth classes to make participation as easy as possible, through a flexible schedule that can meet your needs. Also, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention run the National Diabetes Prevention Program, which is available online and across the country. There are also support and community groups run by organizations like the American Diabetes Association.
Ask your healthcare provider how you can find groups near you to offer you more information and community support and encouragement. You can also learn more about these resources on the Preventing Type 2 Diabetes Podcast.