5 Symptoms Of Gestational Diabetes You Shouldn't Ignore

by Dr. Jennifer Haythe, Diabetes Life

This article was originally published on dLife.com—a website dedicated to helping people with diabetes live happier and healthier lives—as "5 Symptoms Of Gestational Diabetes Women Shouldn't Ignore," and is reposted with permission from the author. 

So you've just been told you have gestational diabetes. Don't worry: You can still have a happy and healthy pregnancy.

Gestational diabetes is usually diagnosed between the 24th and 28th week of pregnancy by taking a glucose challenge test. This is a routine test that should be done on all pregnant women. Pregnancy hormones made by the placenta can block the function of insulin- the hormone that normally manages blood sugar levels. As a result, women can develop diabetes during their pregnancy. Most cases of gestational diabetes can be treated with diet and exercise. Some women will need medication. It is important to check your blood sugar level four times a day and keep your blood sugar level in a normal range to prevent complications like increased birth weight ( > 9 lbs), caesarean birth, preterm labor, hypertension and preeclampsia.

5 Gestational Diabetes Symptoms To Be Aware Of:

1. The #1 symptom of gestational diabetes is NO symptoms at all.

This is why it is essential to have a glucose tolerance test done at the end of the second trimester. Your doctor should schedule this test but it is important that you ask about it as well. Some women are at increased risk for gestational diabetes and you should know who you are. You are more likely to get gestational diabetes if you were overweight prior to pregnancy, if you are African-American, Hispanic, Asian or Native American, if you have a family history of diabetes, if you have had gestational diabetes in the past, if you had a prior stillbirth, and if you have had a baby that weighed more than 9.5 pounds.

2. Excessive thirst and hunger can be symptoms of gestational diabetes.

Many pregnant women feel more hungry than usual because they are nourishing a growing baby! But if you suddenly find yourself ravenous, drinking glasses and glasses of water, or gaining weight very rapidly you should speak to your doctor as these can be symptoms of gestational diabetes.

3. Frequent urination. 

Most pregnant women feel the urge to urinate frequently as the growing baby often presses on the bladder. However, with gestational diabetes, the excess glucose in the blood stream significantly increases urination and draws water out of the body. If you are urinating more than expected you should contact your doctor.

4. Blurry vision. 

Pregnancy hormones can reduce tear production leading to dry eyes, irritation and discomfort. Normally these symptoms resolve quickly. However, gestational diabetes can also cause blurry vision including spots, floaters, and dimming. If you notice that your vision is worsening or blurred and not getting better you need to call your doctor.

5. Headache. 

Pregnancy hormones can cause headaches in all women. However, having gestational diabetes puts you at increased risk for high blood pressure and preeclampsia during pregnancy. A headache can be a sign that your blood pressure is too high so contact your doctor to discuss and be evaluated.

The good news is that most women will have resolution of their diabetes after pregnancy is over. If you had gestational diabetes you should have your blood sugar checked 6-12 weeks after delivery. Women with a history of gestational diabetes are at increased risk for diabetes later in life so it is important for your doctor to know this part of your history as you get older.

Jennifer Haythe, MD, is a practicing cardiologist and an assistant professor of medicine at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City. She's also co-director of the Women's Center for Cardiovascular Health, director of the Adult Pulmonary Hypertension Center, and director of the Cardiac Obstetric Service. 

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