There are many reasons that pregnant women may feel sick after their glucose challenge test. Also called the oral glucose tolerance test, the first test is a 1 hour test and it is an important part of your prenatal care. The test is most often done during the second trimester of pregnancy but in high-risk individuals, the American College Of Obstetricians & Gynecologists recommends that it be done earlier. If you do not pass the initial glucose screening test, you will likely be required to take a second 3 hour test at your doctor’s office.
Symptoms & Causes Of Gestational Diabetes
Symptoms of gestational diabetes are usually not obvious in the vast majority of women who are diagnosed with GDM (Gestational Diabetes Mellitus). This is why it is a good idea to follow your Ob Gyn’s recommendations on when you should be screened. One of the major risk factors is having had gestational diabetes during a previous pregnancy. Though gestational diabetes can be a very difficult thing to deal with during the several weeks of pregnancy, luckily this type of diabetes usually resolves after the mother gives birth.
During the whole time of the gestational diabetes test, you are not allowed to drink water (just a sip occasionally), and you are not allowed to walk or exercise.
How The Three-Hour Test Is Done
A healthcare provider will take the first blood sample before you drink the glucose drink (usually an orange drink). You will be given a sugary drink containing a high amount of glucose that you are required to finish within a few minutes. Then, over the next three hours, healthcare professionals will draw several blood samples at set intervals (usually every hour) to measure your blood glucose levels.
During the test you are not allowed to walk around in the waiting room. This could alter the test results by falsely lowering any high blood sugar levels. The test is meant to test how your body tolerates sugary foods and if the insulin your body is normally releasing is working to lower high blood glucose levels caused by the sweet drink. The glucose levels in the sample of your blood will then be compared to the what the normal level should be.
Pregnant people with a gestational diabetes diagnosis will usually have to initiate lifestyle changes immediately as part of the treatment plan. This medical condition in some cases may also require oral medications or insulin injections to help protect your growing baby from high glucose levels.
Reasons You May Feel Sick During Or After The Glucose Tolerance Test
There are several reasons you may feel sick after or during the test for gestational diabetes.
Nausea From Glucose Drink
The most common reason that pregnant women feel ill during the test is usually from the drink itself. Most people are not accustomed to drinking an extremely sweet glucose liquid in a very short about of time. This in and of itself can make people feel nauseous. If you are prone to nausea it is important to not do other activities that may make your nausea worse. If you happen to throw up during the test, you will have to reschedule it. Given that the 3-hour glucose test may not be easy to fit into your schedule, vomiting is not only uncomfortable but also inconvenient.
Sickness & Lightheadedness From Blood Draw
Even though the blood draw in the hands of a professional is usually just a quick sting, people have a different range of what they can tolerate. Some individuals may be prone to becoming lightheaded during blood draws and this situation when you are also not allowed to drink much water, could make this worse. If you are someone who has passed out before during a blood draw (sometimes called a vasovagal reaction), make sure that your doctor knows this ahead of time. People can become dehydrated and volume depleted from the lack of water, and also the multiple blood draws. Although it is not significant blood loss, in certain patients, this amount of blood can make them more vulnerable to a vasovagal reaction. If passing out during blood draws or during medical exams is part of your past health history, it is important to let your healthcare professional know.
Low Blood Sugar After Oral Glucose Challenge Test
It may seem counterintuitive that a person would have symptoms of low blood glucose after ingesting so many grams of glucose.
Cause Of Hypoglycemia After Glucose Tolerance Test
This can happen to some people because some people’s blood glucose levels rise and fall quickly, but their insulin response may be slower. Thus, when given the drink, some people have little insulin that is released. Then, hours later after patients have not eaten anything except the small cup of very sweet liquid, their insulin surges to battle the copious grams of sugar that was consumed. This insulin surge can then actually cause hypoglycemia or low blood sugar. Most people are not accustomed to drinking this much sugar in such a short time frame.
Symptoms Of Hypoglycemia
Symptoms of hypoglycemia include feeling shaky, nervous or anxious. Patients may also start feeling clammy, lightheaded, and may even begin sweating profusely. They may feel the need to sit down or lie down. If you are feeling this way you should seek immediate medical attention. Having some small sips of fruit juices may be helpful in this situation, but you should also contact your doctor to ensure that everything is okay. One way to potentially avoid an episode of hypoglycemia after the glucose tolerance test is to have a small snack that you can eat in the doctor’s office once the test is complete.
Feeling Sick After Glucose Tolerance Test Pregnancy: Summary
Because most patients will not have a clear sign of gestational diabetes, the American College of Gynecology and the American Diabetic Association are advocates for having a oral glucose challenge test for most patients during pregnancy. It is unfortunately, not a pleasant test to go through. There are many reasons pregnant women may be feeling sick after an oral glucose tolerance test.
One common reason is from the very sweet fruit flavored drink that you are asked to take in order to begin the glucose challenge test. This drink has more sugar than most people are use to consuming in a short period of time and very early in the morning. People who have sensitive stomachs may feel sick or nauseated from drinking this. Also, there are several blood draws involved during the gestational diabetes screening test. If you are someone who has trouble with blood draws this may be a difficult test for you to tolerate. It is important to let you doctor know if you have a history of passing out during a blood draw or lab work. Finally, an insulin surge towards the end of the test in some patients that is meant to battle the high sugar can cause hypoglycemia. It is a good idea to carry a small snack with you can eat once the test is over since you are not allowed to eat or drink during the test itself.
Gestational diabetes can be very harmful to a pregnancy (can even lead to a stillbirth) if it is not diagnosed or not treated. It is important to follow your doctor’s recommendations on all the appropriate screening measures that should be done during pregnancy.
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