A day in the life of someone suffering from diabetes is an exercise of will, masterful micromanagement skills, and self-motivation. After all, maintaining a daily regime consisting of dietary restrictions, compulsory physical activity, blood pressure monitoring, insulin injections, and heart rate measurements is rather hard. It is alarming that for more than 400 million individuals around the globe, such a time- and energy-consuming routine is a reality. Despite the monumental shifts in health care delivery and technology, diabetes continues to be an issue of much concern for millions of people worldwide. The focus of this paper is gestational diabetes, although the larger purpose is to examine various types of diabetes and the implications of having gestational diabetes, in particular. The list of such implications includes dietary considerations, treatment options, and the overall impact of this type of diabetes on patients.
Prior to discussing gestational diabetes, it is important to understand what diabetes actually is and the typology of this disease. Diabetes is a health condition that develops if a person’s body cannot properly turn food into energy. A healthy individual consumes food, which is then broken down into glucose. Once glucose enters the bloodstream, the body signals the pancreas to release insulin, a hormone that controls the level of glucose and ensures that glucose enters the body cells to be later used as energy. A diabetic either has the issue of their body not producing enough insulin or the problem of their cells not being responsive to insulin.
There are four main types of diabetes: type 1, type 2, gestational, and juvenile. Type 1 diabetes develops as a result of an autoimmune issue, which implies that the body can no longer produce insulin. As a result, those suffering from this type of diabetes have to inject insulin daily in order to survive. At the same time, type 2 diabetes develops as a result of one’s body is unable to use insulin properly and control the levels of glucose. The primary difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes is that the latter lacks such an important factor of type 1 diabetes as an acute metabolic disturbance (Forouhi & Wareham, 2018). According to Pearson (2019), “whilst type 1 diabetes has a clear etiology (autoimmune islet beta-cell destruction), type 2 diabetes is essentially a diagnosis of exclusion” (para. 2). Thus, a healthcare professional usually diagnoses someone with type 2 diabetes by ruling out all the other causes of certain symptoms one by one. It is apparent that type 1 and type 2 are different, although the overall impact they might have on the body is more or less the same.
As mentioned earlier, gestational diabetes is going to be the focus of this paper. It occurs in pregnant women and is characterized by abnormally high blood pressure during pregnancy, especially in the second and third trimesters. On the one hand, just like types 1 and 2, this condition affects the way a person’s body uses glucose and produces energy. On the other hand, however, it is crucial to recognize gestational diabetes as a pregnancy complication rather than a long-lasting disease. In women suffering from gestational diabetes during pregnancy, blood sugar (glucose) levels usually get back to normal after they deliver the baby. Another type of diabetes important to mention is juvenile diabetes. It is diabetes diagnosed in early childhood, which usually refers to the issue of the pancreas producing little to no insulin, making it more similar to type 1 diabetes.
When it comes to the drug of choice for gestational diabetes treatment, insulin is considered to be the safest and most common option. It is the most effective at balancing glucose levels yet does not affect the child as it cannot cross the placenta. As a standard medication for gestational diabetes, insulin is either injected with a syringe, using an insulin pen, or even opting for an insulin pump. In addition, it is crucial to add that insulin as a drug of choice for the treatment of gestational diabetes “requires multiple daily injections and subsequently the need to train the patients in the technical aspect of treatment” (Guo et al., 2019, para. 2). However, it is important to acknowledge only a small portion of women with gestational diabetes actually require insulin injections since dietary changes and exercise are often enough to control the blood sugar levels.
As for dietary considerations, treating gestational diabetes implies a set of changes in a patient’s diet. Firstly, it is crucial for future mothers to control how much carbohydrates they eat as carbs and then transform them into glucose. While enough glucose is needed to produce a sufficient amount of energy, too much will cause the blood sugar levels to rise, leading to the condition worsening. Apart from that, medics recommend consuming a balanced diet with enough starch, a limited amount of sweets, and little to no alcohol. These are the primary dietary changes a healthcare professional might advise to a pregnant woman suffering from gestational diabetes.
In regards to the short-term effects of gestational diabetes, a patient might experience excessive sweating, sleepiness, headaches, body aches, and slurred speech as a result of developing gestational diabetes. In addition, they might have to deal with tachycardia or anxiety, which are some of the other short-term effects on the mother. When it comes to the baby, immediate concerns include excessive birth weight and hypoglycemia. The short-term effects of injecting insulin include an increased weight of the fetal body, which implies that the baby might need more oxygen. Due to the demand for oxygen possibly increasing, the risk of developing a hypoxic condition in utero is getting higher as well. As for long-term effects, those going through a pregnancy suffering from gestational diabetes are more likely to develop cardiovascular diseases and chronic kidney conditions (Shou et al., 2019). There are long-term risks for a child born to a mother who has suffered gestational diabetes during pregnancy to develop obesity and type 2 diabetes later in life. Furthermore, such children are usually at a higher cardiometabolic risk. Thus, these are the primary short- and long-term effects of gestational diabetes, which may cause issues for either the mother or the baby, or even both.
In conclusion, diabetes is a condition that affects hundreds of millions of people worldwide, yet there is a lack of understanding of what it actually is and how it develops in society. There are four main types of the disease, including type 1, type 2, gestational, and juvenile diabetes. Gestational diabetes occurs in pregnant women as a result of their bodies being unable to control blood sugar levels. A standard treatment plan focuses on dietary changes and the incorporation of physical activity into the daily routine, although insulin injections might be needed by some women. Although gestational diabetes should not be a concern after giving birth, the condition may lead to significant short- and long-term effects on both the mother and the child.
Forouhi, N. G., & Wareham, N. J. (2018). Epidemiology of diabetes. Medicine, 47(1). Web.
Guo, L., Ma, J., Tang, J., Hu, D., Zhang, W., & Zhao, X. (2019). Comparative efficacy and safety of metformin, glyburide, and insulin in treating gestational diabetes mellitus: A meta-analysis. Journal of Diabetes Research, 1–29. Web.
Pearson, E. R (2019). Diabetes: Is there a future for pharmacogenomics guided treatment? Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics, 106(2).
Shou, C., Wei, Y., Wang, C., & Yang, H. (2019). Updates in long-term maternal and fetal Adverse effects of gestational diabetes mellitus. Maternal-Fetal Medicine, 1(2), 91–94. Web.