Medical terms such as prediabetes, borderline diabetes, type 1 and type 2 diabetes can be baffling and confusing for many people. Prediabetes and diabetes are two different chronic conditions that are related to insulin, but not exactly same. Insulin is basically one of our body’s natural hormones. It helps in the transfer of glucose to the cells out of your blood, which is them synthesised to use for energy. When your body is not able to make enough insulin or it stops functioning properly to insulin as it normally should (also called insulin resistance), the blood sugar levels in your body tend to rise.
With time, high blood sugar levels can result in a prediabetic condition, and if ignored, then diabetes. There are two main types of diabetes, mainly type 1 and type 2. If you have been diagnosed as a borderline diabetic or prediabetic. If the picture is still not clear, then we have all the answers for you. Onlymyhealth editorial team talked to Dr. Altamash Shaikh, Consultant Endocrinologist, Diabetologist and Metabolic Super specialist, Masina Hospital, Mumbai, to know about the difference between diabetes and prediabetes.
Prediabetes Vs Diabetes
Shockingly, blood sugar levels are higher in prediabetes as compared to diabetes. Prediabetes is usually asymptomatic, but there can be some insignificant potential symptoms. What is the difference between Pre Diabetes and Diabetes? Dr. Altamash explains:
1. What is the actual definition?
The fundamental difference between prediabetes and diabetes is that, Prediabetes is the precursor of diabetes, in simpler words, prediabetes is borderline diabetes (higher than normal glucose level in blood that is not high to be called type 2 diabetes). Hence, when a person takes care of his or her health at borderline diabetes levels, he or she can prevent the progression to full blown or overt diabetes.
Whereas, diabetes is the active chronic disease, which causes high blood sugar levels in the body. It is a metabolic condition in which your body is either not able to produce enough insulin or unable to use the insulin it makes effectively. If left untreated, high blood sugar levels due to diabetes can affect your nerves, eyes, kidneys, and many other organs in your body.
2. Symptoms of diabetes and pre diabetes
Most people with pre diabetes may not have any symptoms, however people with diabetes may or may not have symptoms at diagnosis. This is another clinical difference. Dr. Altamash says that its important to understand the basic biochemical difference as the values are given in the table below:
Diagnosis A1C (%) Fasting plasma glucose (mg/dl)Oral glucose tolerance test (mg/dl)
- Normal <5.7 99 or less 139 or less
- Prediabetes5.7 to 6.4 100 to 125 140 to 199
- Diabetes 6.5 or high 126 or more 200 or more
3. Treatment for pre diabetes and diabetes
Treatment wise its easier to prevent or reverse (remit) pre diabetes than diabetes, once developed. Mostly it may be done by simple lifestyle measures and rarely a person with pre diabetes may need tablets if he or she fails to obtain optimal levels by lifestyle measures alone.
Another difference between the two is related to conplications. Prediabetes can never lead to serious complications, but it results in type 2 diabetes instead. It cannot develop into any other chronic health condition. On the other hand, Diabetes can cause havoc in your lives. High levels of glucose in your blood stream can result in a lot of cardiac (heart and blood vessel) problems with time, such as diabetic retinopathy, artery disease, wounds and even kidney failure.
Keeping your blood sugar levels in control is one of the most effective ways to prevent prediabetic stage and the complications of diabetes. However, do not forget that you also have to take care of your blood pressure and cholesterol levels alongside. There is a higher risk of complications if you are suffering from high blood pressure or hypertension and high cholesterol, with diabetes. If you experience any symptoms related to diabetes, it is best to visit a physician, for further diagnosis and treatment.