If you’re at high risk for developing diabetes, or have shown any potential symptoms of prediabetes while pregnant, you will probably need to take an oral glucose tolerance test. These tests are helpful, and usually very effective, in helping to detect this potentially very serious condition of gestational diabetes.

What is Gestational Diabetes?

Generally, gestational diabetes is a temporary form of diabetes that occurs in pregnant women because their bodies have developed an inability to produce enough insulin to regulate the body’s blood sugar levels. Sometimes, gestational diabetes is called carbohydrate or glucose intolerance.

Gestational diabetes has similar symptoms to Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes:

  • Unusual thirstiness
  • Frequent urination
  • Sugar in urine
  • Unusual fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Frequent vaginal, bladder, and skin infections
  • Blurred vision

What is Glucose?

Glucose is a form of sugar produced by the body from processing the food we consume. Glucose is also commonly referred to as blood sugar. 

When someone is having a glucose test, he or she is having a blood sugar test. 

Glucose is one of two sources for the body’s energy production. We get glucose from carbohydrates like bread, fruit, dairy, and vegetables. The other source of energy the body creates comes from high fat foods, or from other sources of fat.

What is an Oral Glucose Tolerance Test?

An oral glucose tolerance test examines how a person’s body reacts to glucose. A glucose test can help diagnose diabetes in men, women, or children, or gestational diabetes in pregnant women. 

Who Needs an Oral Glucose Tolerance Test?

The oral glucose test is used to diagnose diabetes for both people who’ve shown signs of diabetes, and women between 26 and 28 weeks pregnancy. For pregnant women who do not usually have diabetes, the test shows whether or she has developed gestational diabetes.

If you’re at a higher risk for gestational diabetes, your health care provider may want to do the test during your thirteenth week of pregnancy instead of waiting.

How to Take a Glucose Test?

A glucose test during pregnancy will take about three hours. So be prepared for a long period of time sitting and waiting between blood draws.

1. The three days leading up to the test, you’ll need to consume at least 150 grams of carbohydrates a day. A standard slice of wheat bread is about 25 grams of carbohydrates. Be sure to read the nutritional facts on your food to make sure you’re getting at least the 150 grams each day. If you are normally on a low carbohydrate diet, you’ll have to adjust to meet that figure.

2. The easiest way to successfully fast before your glucose test is to eat a healthy meal for dinner the night before your test.

3. You’ll need to fast for eight to twelve hours before your glucose test. During those hours, just sip on water.

4.  As the test starts, you will have blood drawn to test your fasting blood sugar levels.

5. Next, you’ll drink a glucose solution.

6. Then, once every hour during the three hours, your blood will be drawn again, and the blood sugar levels tested as you metabolize the glucose in your system.

Additional Tips for Your Glucose Test

1. Be sure to check with your doctor’s office before the test for any additional or specific instructions they have for you.

2. Ask someone to drive you to and from the test if you think you may have issues with low energy or have had any past signs of hypoglycemia or weakness after fasting.

3. Arrange for childcare for your other children while you’re being tested. You’ll be at the doctor’s office the whole time, so they probably should stay with someone who can help entertain them and keep an on them while you’re being tested.

4. Bring things to keep yourself entertained. Three hours can go pretty slowly if you don’t have a good book, stack of magazines, or a few good games on your iPad.

5. Bring a snack for post-test. You’ll most likely be pretty hungry and will almost surely feel better after eating again.

6. Before taking the glucose test, be sure to consult your doctor about any medications you’re taking, and find out how they may impact your test. Some medications, like beta-blockers, and anti-depressants, can interfere with the test results coming out true.

As You Prepare for Your Glucose Test

If you’re pregnant, make sure you ask your doctors any questions you might have about glucose tests during pregnancy. There are a few potential minor side effects to the test, though they’re rare. 

Be sure to ask your doctor about these and how to deal with any problems that may arise.

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