Home Diabetes Glucose Intolerance – Signs, Symptoms, Treatment and Diet

Glucose Intolerance – Signs, Symptoms, Treatment and Diet



Glucose intolerance is term for metabolic conditions which result in high blood glucose levels.

Pre-diabetes, type 2 diabetes, impaired fasting glucose and impaired glucose tolerance are all conditions which fall under the term glucose intolerant.

Glucose intolerance is defined by the World Health Organisation as:

  • A blood sugar level of 6.0 mmol/l or above whilst fasting
  • A blood glucose level of over 7.8 mmol/l 2 hours after consuming 75g of glucose

The figures above are based on the assumption that people are not taking blood glucose lowering medication. The symptoms of glucose intolerance may not be so easy to spot. The symptoms may include:

  • Feeling thirsty
  • Being tired or lethargic
  • Needing to urinate more than usual
  • Itchiness around the genitals

People with impaired glucose tolerance are more likely to notice symptoms after meals. Whereas people with impaired fasting glucose will notice the symptoms through other parts of the day including during the night.

Glucose intolerance will often be diagnosed by a fasting plasma glucose test or by a glucose tolerance test. A plasma glucose test is when a blood sample is take, usually from your arm, and the blood glucose levels measured. A glucose tolerance test involves taking a set amount of glucose orally, usually 75g of glucose, and then taking your blood glucose levels over regular periods of time over the next few hours.

Glucose intolerance can be treated through diet and lifestyle changes or with assistance from anti-diabetic medication, such as tablets and/or insulin. Your doctor will measure your long term blood glucose control via an HbA1c test.

Your doctor may also prescribe you with blood glucose testing supplies to allow you to make diet choices and to indentify and prevent high or low blood glucose levels.

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