More than 30 million Americans, including more than 350,000 Oklahomans, manage diabetes every day.
November is National Diabetes Month, marking an important opportunity to bring attention to this chronic condition and the ways it impacts people’s health and quality of life.
Type 1 and type 2 diabetes are two common forms of the disease.
Gestational diabetes, which develops during pregnancy, is another common type of the condition and is the focus of this year’s awareness campaign.
In most cases, gestational diabetes goes away after a baby is born. However, both the mother and child are at an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. In fact, half of all women who have gestational diabetes eventually develop type 2 diabetes.
While this form of the condition often has no or mild symptoms, such as increased thirst or more frequent urination, it can cause health problems for mother and child.
Gestational diabetes is sometimes related to hormonal changes from pregnancy that make a mother’s body less able to use insulin, but genetics and extra weight can play a role, too, said Janice Hermann, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension nutrition specialist.
“The most effective way to manage gestational diabetes includes staying physically active and following a healthy diet. If that isn’t enough to control your blood glucose levels, medication may help,” Hermann said. “To lower your risk, lose extra weight before getting pregnant, if you’re overweight, and remain physically active before and during your pregnancy.”
Women who develop gestational diabetes should get tested for type 2 diabetes within 12 weeks of giving birth. If the results are clear, they should continue to get tested every three years.
“If you had gestational diabetes during a previous pregnancy and you plan to become pregnant again, be sure to talk to your doctor about your health history,” Hermann said. “It’s also important to let your child’s health care provider know you had gestational diabetes.”
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States. People with diabetes are at higher risk for serious health complications such as blindness; kidney failure; heart disease; stroke; and loss of toes, feet or legs.
Story by Leilana McKindra