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What Is Gestational Diabetes?

Diabetes is a common illness that affects millions of patients around the world. When exploring this particular topic, it is important to realize that there are different types of diabetes. Each type has its own particular effects on the body, but there are some similarities that they do tend to share. Gestational diabetes is less common than type 2 diabetes, but can have devastating effects if not detected and treated early on. This particular type of diabetes affects pregnant women and can also have an impact on the unborn baby.

 

The onset of diabetes first occurs during pregnancy with this type of illness. It is classified as gestational if the woman does not have a previous diagnosis of diabetes. The illness causes blood sugar levels to spike throughout pregnancy. The severity of the illness can differ from one patient to the next. We will take a look at the causes and symptoms, as well as the potential treatment options that are available for women diagnosed with gestational diabetes.

What Causes Gestational Diabetes?

Women should ensure they have a thorough understanding of both the causes and risk factors behind gestational diabetes. This can give the individual a better idea about their own risk, which ensures they are more aware of potential symptoms that develop.

 

Gestational diabetes can develop when a woman’s pancreas is unable to make a sufficient supply of insulin while she is pregnant (1). Throughout pregnancy, a woman's body goes through a number of changes. This includes the production of extra hormones in order to facilitate these changes. As these hormonal changes occur, there is a risk that cells may become somewhat resistant to the presence of insulin in the blood circulatory system. In this case, the woman may develop a condition known as insulin resistance.

 

There are also certain factors that can increase the risk of developing gestational diabetes. Women who are obese fail to remain active, and those who have prediabetes prior to pregnancy have a greater risk of developing this condition.

Symptoms Of Gestational Diabetes

One of the major problems that healthcare professionals and pregnant women face with gestational diabetes comes into play when we look at the symptoms. Unfortunately, most women will not experience early symptoms if they develop gestational diabetes during pregnancy (2).

 

There are some cases where the woman may experience some increase in thirst. Some women also find that they urinate more frequently, but this may also be due to the pregnancy. This is why it is important to speak to a healthcare professional and go for regular checkups. A healthcare provider can perform regular tests to ensure they keep track of both insulin and blood glucose levels in the pregnant woman. This is even more important for women who have specific risk factors that are generally associated with gestational diabetes.

The Possible Complications Of Gestational Diabetes

Women should ensure they understand what complications can occur if they are diagnosed with gestational diabetes. The effects of the illness can affect the woman and her child.

 

When a patient has gestational diabetes, the following complications can develop, especially in cases where treatment is not provided early on (3):

 

 

There are also several complications that can affect the body:

 

Treatment Options For Gestational Diabetes

When it comes to the treatment for gestational diabetes, individuals should realize that there are both medications and lifestyle changes that can help.

 

A healthy diet is one of the most important changes that a woman should implement if they have gestational diabetes. This means reducing the amount of carbohydrates and refined sugars. Increasing protein consumption and fiber can help, as well as fatty fish such as salmon and tuna.

 

A physical lifestyle is also an important part of the treatment program. There is no need to participate in strenuous activities. Even just walking at a fast pace every day can help to keep blood sugar levels low. Research has also shown that physical activity helps to improve the sensitivity that cells have to insulin.

 

Apart from these treatment options, regularly monitoring blood sugar levels is important. If the patient’s glucose levels do not remain stable with these methods, then a daily dose of insulin may be considered (5). In some cases, a drug like metformin may also work well.

Conclusion

Gestational diabetes can put the lives of both the pregnant woman and her baby in danger. Early diagnosis is crucial to ensure an effective treatment program is implemented in a timely manner. It is important for women to understand the potential complications that may occur in the case of gestational diabetes. The risk of diabetes remaining after birth is also something that women should keep in mind. Fortunately, both preventative and treatment methods are available to assist with the management of the condition.

For more information on this topic, please reach out to us at RescueMD at 972-390-7667. We are an internal medicine, weight loss and women’s health practice. We serve Allen, Frisco, Mckinney, Plano, Dallas and surrounding areas. In addition to physicians, we also have registered dietitians and personal trainers on staff to treat and manage most cases.

References

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4404472/

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