Reviewed by Dr Nurul Aishah Jamaludin and Physician Ignatius Ooi Yong Chin
How To Deal With Prediabetes Symptoms
Published | 6 min read
People who have prediabetes symptoms are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes. It can be reversed with health-conscious lifestyle changes.
Despite the condition’s name, prediabetes doesn’t always lead to diabetes. Think of it as your chance to prevent diabetes.
Find out if you have prediabetes symptoms and some early steps to prevent the condition from worsening with lasting lifestyle changes.
Prediabetes vs. Diabetes
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), prediabetes is when blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not enough to be considered diabetes.
Similarly, diabetes is a chronic metabolic disease characterised by elevated
Prediabetes symptoms develop over time due to many factors, such as a sedentary lifestyle and obesity. In some cases, people whose parents or siblings are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes have a higher risk of developing prediabetes. Patients with this type are resistant to insulin, or their bodies can’t make enough of the hormone.
To determine if you have prediabetes or diabetes, you need to undergo a blood test. You have diabetes if:
- Your blood sugar level is greater than 7 mmol/L after eight hours of fasting.
- Your blood sugar level is higher than
11 mmol/L two hours after drinking 75 grams of glucose water.
- Your HbA1C level (amount of glucose in the haemoglobin) is higher than 6.3%.
A blood sugar level betwee
How TCM views Diabetes and Prediabetes
From the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) point of view, four factors can deplete yin (passive energy), trigger too much Fire, and ultimately cause diabetes:
- An unhealthy diet: Consuming alcohol and greasy, sweet, and spicy food can exhaust the Spleen and produce Damp Heat.
- A fluctuating emotional state: Unstable mental health can disturb the flow of the qi (vital life energy), inducing internal Fire in the body.
- Congenital disabilities: Some people are born with energy imbalances and disruptions that increase the risk of diabetes and prediabetes.
- Excessive sexual activity: TCM believes this can reduce Kidney essence, rendering it incapable of providing yin to the body.
Prediabetes in Malaysia
Malaysia has the highest cases of diabetes in Asia. Two in 10 Malaysians live with the disease. And for every person with diabetes, there are three people who show prediabetes symptoms.
In 2022, a team of researchers published a review on the prevalence of type 2 diabetes in Malaysia. They discovered that among 103,063 participants, the prevalence of diabetes was 14.39%. The researchers also found that the prevalence of prediabetes among these individuals was 11.62%.
Risk Factors for Prediabetes
You might be at risk for prediabetes if you are:
- Forty-five years of age or older
- Related to a diabetic family member
- Physically inactive
- A woman who has given birth to a baby weighing more than 4 kilograms
- A woman who has had gestational diabetes when pregnant
Race and ethnicity also play a part. Studies on the prevalence of diabetes and prediabetes in Malaysia revealed that Indians are the most affected, followed by Malays, Chinese, and Bumiputeras.
People can go years without noticing any prediabetes symptoms as it’s difficult to detect.
If you possess two or more risk factors and notice an increase in urination frequency, constant dry mouth, blurred vision, a numbing sensation in your limbs, and darkened skin on certain areas of your body, it’s best to consult a doctor as soon as possible.
Other symptoms that prediabetics commonly experience include a lowered
What You Can Do to Prevent Prediabetes from Worsening
Unlike diabetes, prediabetes can often be reversed before it becomes more serious. Prevention methods include lifestyle changes and natural treatments.
Natural supplements and remedies
In TCM, diabetes is due to a Yin Deficiency or a Dry-Heat body constitution. Several natural ingredients have been scientifically proven to improve blood sugar control.
TCM physician Ignatius Ooi has used herbs like lingzhi mushroom (lingzhi,
TCM recommends the Mediterranean diet, focusing on the consumption of beans, fruits, vegetables and whole grains, or the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet to improve prediabetes symptoms. DASH is usually meant for people with
Drinking mai dong (麦冬) tea can help too. A study investigating the effects of mai dong on insulin resistance showed that it’s beneficial in managing gestational diabetes and reducing blood glucose levels.
Include acupressure massage
TCM also incorporates acupuncture and acupressure massage to lower blood sugar, boost insulin production, and ease insulin resistance. The most commonly used acupoints to improve the symptoms of prediabetes or diabetes are san yin jiao (SP6, 三阴交), zhong wan (CV12, 中脘), shen shu (BL23, 肾俞), di ji (SP8, 地机), and tai xi (KI3, 太溪). You can massage these points at home too.
Prediabetes symptoms are warning signs. If you spot them, you should pay more attention to your health and prevent the symptoms from worsening. Share this article with your family and friends if you think they might be at risk.
This is an adaptation of an article, “什么是糖尿病?”, which first appeared on the Health123 website.
- World Health Organization. 2019. Diabetes. [online] [Accessed on 9 September 2022]
- National Center for Biotechnology Information. 2022. Prevalence of type-2 diabetes and prediabetes in Malaysia: A systematic review and meta-analysis. [online] [Accessed on 9 September 2022]
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2019. About Prediabetes and Type 2 Diabetes. [online] [Accessed on 9 September 2022]
- CDC. 2022. Fiber: The Carb That Helps You Manage Diabetes. [online] [Accessed on 12 September 2022]
- National Library of Medicine. 2021. Safety and Efficacy of Dietary Supplements for Diabetes. [online] [Accessed on 12 September 2022]
- FreeMalaysiaToday. 2021. Prediabetes: what is it and why is it serious? [online] [Accessed on 12 September 2022]
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