Why Do Women Get Gestational Diabetes?
Gestational diabetes is a pregnancy complication that can happen to approximately 3 and 5% of women during the last 2/3 of their pregnancy. When suffering from gestational diabetes the woman’s body is unable to use the insulin that is produced and becomes insulin resistant.
This is a problem because insulin brings the sugar that is metabolized from the food we eat into the cells to be used as energy. Without the sugar the body is forced to burn fat for fuel which has significant negative effects on both the mother and the baby.
Without using the insulin there is also a large amount of sugar floating around in the body which causes complications for the mother.
It is important to recognize gestational diabetes symptoms in order to ensure a happy healthy pregnancy. Most women are tested using a simple blood test between weeks 24 and 28 to test for the presence of too much blood sugar.
The 5 Hour Glucose Tolerance Test
Women who have certain risk factors may also undergo a 5 hour glucose tolerance test where she is asked to drink between 8 and 16 oz of a high sugar drink and then produce urine and blood every 30 minutes so physicians can test for glucose in the blood and urine that may be well above normal levels.
What are the Symptoms of Gestational Diabetes?
Women who have gestational diabetes symptoms may not recognize them because they can be very subtle. If you have gestational diabetes you may be experiencing one or more of the following symptoms:
- An increased amount of thirst
- More trips to the bathroom
- More hungry
- blurred vision
- Infection in bladder, vagina and skin
All of these symptoms are caused by the increased sugar in the blood.
Because the sugar isn’t absorbed by the cells the mother also experiences and increased level of fatigue. The kidneys try to filter out the excess sugar and in turn takes out a lot of water from the blood. The woman then becomes thirsty because she is dehydrated.
Hunger is triggered because the cells require energy but she is fatigued because the sugar isn’t being used by the cells.
Many of these symptoms are also symptoms of pregnancy. Many women feel they are going to the bathroom more frequently because of the weight of the baby on the bladder.
However, they aren’t constantly thirsty. In the 20 – 24th weeks is when a woman’s hunger and energy usually returns as well. However, with the gestational diabetes symptoms instead of more energy they continue to feel fatigued.
Gestational diabetes has been found to have negative effects on the baby in the later years after birth and to cause complications for the mother and during the delivery if it remains untreated. For these significant medical reasons it is very important to identify and treat gestational diabetes early in the pregnancy.
Every woman should have a simple fasting blood sugar drawn between weeks 20 and 24 and if they present with gestational diabetes symptoms should have another test done as well.
High Risk Factors for Gestational Diabetes
Women who have high risk factors for gestational diabetes such as a family history of diabetes, obesity, lack of exercise, and previous pregnancy with gestational diabetes symptoms or having delivered another baby that is over 9 pounds should have a 5 hour glucose tolerance test to rule out the possibility of having the condition with this pregnancy.