Prediabetes is estimated to affect one in three people. Dr. Ian Braithwaite, co-founder of Habitual, shares some of the commonly missed early warning signs of the condition.

By 2025 it’s predicted more than four million people in the UK will be diagnosed with the diabetes, and more than 1 in 3 already have prediabetes. This makes it important to be aware of the warning signs.

“Sometimes the symptoms of diabetes can be overlooked, but shouldn’t be brushed off. The sooner you look to reverse diabetes or even prediabetes the better. If left untreated, diabetes can cause long-term health problems, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, nerve, eye and kidney damage.” says Dr Braithwaite.

Here are the most common early warning signs”

Going to the toilet too often

If you notice you suddenly have a weaker bladder, it could be a sign of diabetes. When you have excess sugar in the blood, your body tries to get rid of it, causing you to use the loo more frequently.

Bad breath can be caused by prediabetes

If loved ones are complaining they can’t get close to you in the morning, or any time during the day, because of your breath, this could be a sign of diabetes. It is linked to dehydration and is caused by high levels of ketones in the blood. Ketones are a chemical produced by your liver when it breaks down fat. High levels of ketones can cause a bad fruity smell to the breath, which is a critical sign that the body has run out of insulin.

Blurred vision could mean prediabetes

Blurry vision is a common and often ignored sign of diabetes. High blood sugar levels cause a build up of fluid in the eyes, resulting in blurry vision and nearsightedness.

Scratches and wounds

Having high blood sugar for a long time can lead to poor circulation and nerve damage, meaning someone with prediabetes or diabetes has less ability to feel pain. So if you have an open wound you may not be able to feel it. Keep an eye out for cuts especially on your feet or legs.

Itchy skin

Are you constantly itching your skin? Diabetics are more likely to have dry skin, due to the high levels of blood sugar. Not only this, but certain skin conditions can also develop as a side effect of diabetes, such as fungal infections like athlete’s foot, which can lead to even more itching.

Darker areas of skin can be caused by prediabetes

Known as acanthosis nigricans, these darker patches often appear around the neck, armpits or groin and can be one of the first indicators of too much insulin in the blood – often a sign of prediabetes.

Woman inspecting her foot. Prediabetes can lead to numb or tingling feet and nerve damage

Pins and needles can also be a sign

We all can suffer from dead hands or feet but diabetic neuropathy – a condition characterised by numbness in your hands and feet  – occurs regularly in people with type 2 diabetes and in prediabetes. High blood sugar over a sustained period of time can damage the small blood vessels that supply the nerves, preventing nutrients reaching them and causing damage. Neuropathy can affect your hands and arms, but the main danger is in the feet. If you’re constantly complaining of a dead foot or leg, seek urgent medical attention.

The good news is that if you have prediabetes, and even if you already have type 2 diabetes, it’s reversible by making food and lifestyle changes. Research has shown that a large proportion of people are able to reach diabetes remission if they lose 15kg in weight.