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Borderline diabetes is a term for a condition that's now called prediabetes. It's based on the level of blood glucose, also known as blood sugar, when you have fasted (which means you haven't eaten any food overnight). Your doctor will test your blood glucose in the office. If it is below 100 milligrams of glucose per deciliter of blood (mg/dL), it is normal. Borderline diabetes or prediabetes occurs when your fasting blood glucose is between 100 and 125 mg/dL. A level of 126 mg/dL or above indicates diabetes.
When the diabetes police are in hot pursuit and you are within five miles of a state border you have borderline diabetes.
Sorry. I couldn’t resist. In the medical world we use certain fixed blood sugar numbers to determine who has diabetes and who doesn’t. The standards are set by the American Diabetes Association and are adjusted from time to time as new research reveals new truths.
So if your blood sugar is above a set threshold you have diabetes. If it’s below a set threshold you don’t. If you fall between the two sets of numbers you’re not a member of either tribe. You aren’t really quite “normal,” but your sugar isn’t high enough to really be considered a person with diabetes either. You have borderline diabetes, prediabetes, or in more technical terms, impaired glucose tolerance.
But none of these labels convey the deadly seriousness of the condition. Here’s the truth, no bull, if you have borderline diabetes, full-blown diabetes is on the way. The conversion rate from prediabetes to full blown diabetes is mind numbing, and because of this I especially dislike the term “borderline” as it makes the condition sound somehow less serious than it is.
At any rate, on to the numbers. We now use a quick and simple blood test called an A1C to diagnose diabetes. If your doctor’s office is so equipped, it can even be run from a single drop of blood from your fingertip in about six minutes.
The test gives us a picture of the blood sugar environment of your body over the last three months. Diabetes is now defined as an A1C score of 6.5% or greater. Normal is considered to be 5.6 and below. If you are between 5.7 and 6.4 you are on the border. (Just remember that it’s more like the border between North and South Korea—filled with land mines—than the border between North and South Carolina.)
To make it easier to grasp, these percentages can be converted into estimated average glucose numbers, in plain English—meter numbers. And in meter numbers, “borderline” diabetes is defined as an average reading between 114 and 137 mg/dL.
This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.