What Is Gestational Diabetes? Symptoms, Causes and Treatment
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What Is Gestational Diabetes? Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

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One of the unusual subsets of diabetes is “Gestational Diabetes”. But why is it unusual? The answer is really simple. It affects only pregnant women. You read that correctly! Although less than 10% ( the actual range is between 2% to 10% ) of pregnant women get affected, it can have a long-term impact in some instances. Even more bizarre is that this disease subsides on its own post-childbirth. Yet another intriguing facet of this illness is that it never manifests itself, which means the concerned women do not realise they have gestational diabetes.

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What is Gestational Diabetes – Definition and Overview?

It is a subset of diabetes that affects pregnant women and manifests only during gestation. It is usually diagnosed during scheduled check-ups, especially between the 6th and 7th month of pregnancy. Women who are obese, have gained unhealthy weight, or become resistant to insulin are some of the factors that trigger gestational diabetes. However, it does not mean that those with lower BMI or Body Mass Index remain shielded or will not develop this short-term disease.

Signs and Symptoms of Gestational Diabetes

Although most pregnant women do not experience typical diabetes symptoms, a few realise and complain during their visit to the doctor. Post-diagnosis diabetes management plays an important role in maintaining a healthy blood sugar level.

gestational diabetes diet

Some common signs are quite similar to other forms of diabetes, such as type 1 and type 2. Typical indications are frequent urge to drink water, unusual tiredness, drowsiness, polyuria, and mood swings.

Unfortunately, most of these symptoms are synonymous with pregnancy, and therefore women tend to ignore them. Furthermore, because the attention is fixated on the unborn child, women either neglect or simply dismiss these adversities with a smile. Remember, if you constantly get thirsty, suffer from recurring bouts of moodiness, and feel tired despite not being involved in any physical activity, it’s time to consult your doctor. Chances are you might have developed gestational diabetes, especially if you are in your third trimester. A handy sugar test machine can make a big difference in managing optimal levels in case your test result is positive.

Importance of Prenatal Screening for Gestational Diabetes

Screening during the prenatal stage is extremely important. It can prevent subsequent complications. Not many pregnant women realise that ignoring can create health issues for their babies later in life; therefore, a blood sugar test kit is necessary. Here are some of the health-related repercussions if gestational diabetes is left untreated during pregnancy –

  • If gestational diabetes is not addressed at the right time, it can lead to increased risk for the unborn in terms of getting type 2 diabetes in the future ( as a kid or young adult and even later ).
  • An unrestrained blood sugar count increases the chances of a mother opting for a cesarean section.
  • The chances of the baby gaining weight during the early stages of growing up increase dramatically.

Risk Factors and Causes of Gestational Diabetes

Some of the common and clinically proven risk factors include –

  1. Sedentary lifestyle.
  2. Obesity and unusually high BMI factor.
  3. Having experienced gestational diabetes during the previous childbearing.
  4. Suffering from PCOS condition or polycystic ovary syndrome. It can also put the baby at risk. Chances are that both mother and child may develop type 2 diabetes later.
  5. Have a family history of diabetes or are diagnosed as pre-diabetic.

Gestational diabetes is caused due to hormonal upheavals, which typically lead to insulin resistance.

Link between Hormonal Changes and Insulin Resistance

During pregnancy, a woman experiences hormonal changes. These manifest and are visible from the outside. Weight gain is one such example. However, quite a few changes occur inside the body. This includes the production of several distinct hormones. To address these changes, the body sometimes releases more hormones than needed. Insulin, found in the pancreas, is a perfect example.

When the body’s cells cannot suitably exploit insulin, it accumulates glucose in blood vessels, a component that provides energy. This is called insulin resistance, which invariably leads to gestational diabetes. It is highly advised to keep a portable glucometer handy, which includes a large stock of test strips. Interestingly, BeatO glucometer strips are quite popular and affordable, and these can be bought online.

Read More: Quick Guide to Gestational Diabetes

Conclusion

Gestational diabetes is not just another form of blood sugar imbalance. It is much more complex and triggered because of several factors, which include obesity, family history, lifestyle, pre-diabetic status, and associated conditions such as PCOS. Pregnancy also gives birth to hormonal changes, which lead to inefficient usage of these constituents. When insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas, is not efficiently utilised, it invariably leads to gestational diabetes.

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Disclaimer :

It is crucial to monitor your blood sugar levels using a smartphone-connected glucometer on a regular basis. If you feel doubtful about whether or not you should consume a particular item, you should do a quick sugar check before and after you consume it.

Being a person with diabetes, you can enjoy your favourite treats by making sure that you keep the portion size in check. Overindulging can lead to a spike in your sugar levels. It’s important to discuss with your physician how a food item can affect your blood glucose levels. If you have any doubts about what you can include as a part of your diabetes diet, you should always speak to your doctor or health coach.

Get the best health advice with BeatO!

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Sakshi Poptani

Sakshi Poptani

As a Content strategist, I have a keen eye for storytelling, brand marketing and community management. I have worked across three sectors - hospitality, technology and healthcare. They have evolved me as a writer and helped me bridge the gaps between storytelling and brand management. I have an unwavering aim of reaching out to as many people as I can. I want to enhance the perspective and insights of both my readers and my own self as I tread further in my journey.

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