Health Advice: A Refresher on Diabetes

Gestational diabetes may not be a condition caused by pregnancy but one that was already in place and emerged during pregnancy. Women who have had gestational diabetes, sometimes referred to as type III diabetes, may be at a much higher risk of developing diabetes even years after the pregnancy has ended. All women should be screened for the condition during their pregnancy- it occurs in some 1-3% of all women with certain groups having a higher risk than others.

The Warning Signs of Diabetes
Diabetes may be present in the body for years without being noticed and many people are typically classified as “pre-diabetic” without even noticing anything out of the ordinary. Their blood sugar levels may be slightly elevated but not quite high enough to count as diabetes. The warning signs include:
• Increased thirst
• Frequent urination, especially when it occurs at night (may be a warning sign of other conditions in addition or instead of diabetes)
• Blurred vision or vision changes
• Unusual fatigue
• Sores that do not heal. A small wound that involves some bleeding and minor discomfort should show signs of healing within seven to ten days and be completely healed shortly after that. With diabetics, the skin may not heal at all or may start to look like it is healing and then reopen.
• Unexplained weight loss
• Constant hunger
• Menstrual irregularity and/or chronic yeast infections

All of these warning signs are very relative- they could be evident or they may not be present at all. In addition, the warning signs can often be present in other conditions.

The Myths of Diabetes
In addition to the real risks and the warning signs, there are a number of myths that surround diabetes that help keep it so difficult to understand. For instance, some diabetics think that they can never have any kind of sugar again or that they have to only eat certain foods. This is not true; there are many forms of sugar and it is not necessary to stop having all of them. You can eat fruits (fructose) or drink milk and have other forms of dairy (lactose). You can even have a small slice of cake; as long as you realize how your food impacts your blood sugar and makes your body react.

There are two types of carbohydrates: simple and complex. Simple carbohydrates (sugars in sweets, biscuits, cakes, sodas) are problematic as they cause the blood sugar level to spike and the body to be flooded with insulin. These are the sugars that are broken down very quickly and easily by the body. Complex carbohydrates are harder to break down by the body and do not cause the sugar spikes that are common with the simple carbs. Complex carbs are present in whole grains and the natural starch foods. It is a myth that a potato is a bad thing- it is actually lower in calories.

Diabetes and Timing Your Meals
Moderation in eating is the key. You should avoid starving or overeating. Overeating or periods of starvation can cause the insulin levels to fluctuate greatly. Eating smaller, more evenly spaced meals can allow the body to have the energy that it needs without having the sugar spikes that can make diabetes even worse.

Consult your doctor if you have any concerns about your current drug dosage or health.

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