What is gestational diabetes?

Gestational diabetes isa chronic disease, that is, it is long-lasting and originates more or less in the middle of the pregnancy period, which appears inwomenwho have never suffered from this diseaseand can affect several pregnancies. (1)

You should know: The onset of gestational diabetes can give way, if not properly controlled, to type 2 diabetes or also called type 2 diabetes mellitus.

This pathology is characterized by aslight elevation of blood sugar levels, due to a period of insulin resistance, a process in which cells cannot take advantage of the energy from glucose.

In this sense, women with gestational diabetes usuallydo not manifest symptomsand it is only diagnosed with routine exams and tests such asglucose tolerance.

Why does gestational diabetes occur?

Here area number of possible causesfor which gestational diabetes can occur:

1. Overweight and obesity

One of themain risk factors during pregnancy is perhaps the situation of overweight and obesity. (2)

In this aspect there are two possibilities: the first is that the womanalready suffers from overweightbefore becoming pregnant and the other that shegains weight beyond the average indicatedduring pregnancy.

To highlight: In both cases, being overweight generates insulin resistance and then the progressive increase in blood glucose, giving rise to gestational diabetes.

2. Polycystic ovary syndrome

Note: It is very common for women with polycystic ovarian syndrome to develop insulin resistance during pregnancy with the consequent appearance of gestational diabetes. (3)

3. Sedentary lifestyle

Another reason for the appearance of gestational diabetes is related to a sedentary lifestyle , a condition in which the person is not active or does nothing for long periods of time. 

You should know: Some studies have shown that a sedentary lifestyle is closely related to the appearance of insulin resistanceresistance and diabetes mellitus. (4)

4. Family history and ethnicity

Another factor to take into consideration in the mother’s medical history is the family history of diabetes among her family members.

Likewise, it has been shown that African Americans are more likely to suffer from diabetes than Caucasian whites, so they represent risk factors to consider during pregnancy. (6)

What symptoms occur in gestational diabetes?

Gestational diabetes, as well as diabetes in any of its stages, presents a specific symptomatology and which we mention below:

1. Abnormal thirst and increased urination

One of the problems that commonly occur in gestational diabetes is abnormal thirst and increased urination , indicating that there are high levels of glucose in the blood and that special tests are required. (7)

Note: In this situation, the doctor will order a glucose tolerance test , which must be repeated if high levels are found to confirm the presence of gestational diabetes.

2. Fatigue

Insulin resistance, with the consequent gestational diabetes, prevents glucose from being used by cells as an energy source , which limits proper muscle activation and in general of the whole organism, causing fatigue.

3. Frequent infections

Another of the recurring symptoms in gestational diabetes is the frequent appearance of infections such as urinary tract infections, soft tissue infections, intra-abdominal infections, among others. (8)

How is gestational diabetes removed?

To avoid the complications of gestational diabetes, here are some simple tips to follow with your doctor:

1. Healthy eating and physical activity

One of the first steps for the treatment of gestational diabetes is to maintain a healthy diet , eating foods with a low glycemic index and Carrying outsome physical activityaccording to your condition. (9)

2. Glucose level control

Another method to control gestational diabetes is the constant check of glucose levels and in those moments where high levels are found, carry out the necessary intervention strategies.

3. Insulin injections

In those cases in which the reason is a failure in the functioning of the pancreas, pharmacological therapy would be the strategy to apply with insulin injections to correct high blood glucose levels. (10)

4. Constant monitoring of the baby

High levels of glucose and insulin in the blood during gestational diabetes represent risks and complications for the baby , since it can become overweight, be born prematurely, or in uncontrolled cases of this disease, fetal death can occur. (eleven)

Key Findings

  • Gestational diabetes is a chronic disease that appears in pregnant women.
  • Gestational diabetes,if not properly controlled , can lead to type 2 diabetes mellitus.
  • Gestational diabetes is characterized by a mild elevation in blood sugar, due to a period of insulin resistance.
  • Gestational diabetes is perfectly controllable with simple therapeutic intervention techniques.

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