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Diabetes and the Hispanic American Woman
Hispanic American women are two or three times more likely than non-Hispanic American women to develop diabetes.
When the body is unable to create or use insulin properly, the result is diabetes.
The body needs insulin to transform food into energy. When it's unable to perform this function, a variety of health problems can begin to appear.
Diabetes may show itself through fatigue, irritability, vision problems or unusual weight fluctuation. Thirst, hunger and urination may all increase to exceptional levels.
More serious chronic symptoms of diabetes are heart problems, poor circulation sometimes leading to amputation, and stroke. When left untreated, diabetes can end in death.
Risk factors for type 2 diabetes in Hispanic American women are obesity, lack of physical activity, family history of diabetes, and glucose tolerance problems. Read More...
Types of Diabetes
Type 1 Diabetes
Previously known as juvenile diabetes, type 1 diabetes can occur at any age but is most commonly diagnosed in children, teens, and young adults. In type 1 diabetes, the body does not produce insulin at all, causing highly elevated levels of glucose in the blood stream. The exact cause of type 1 diabetes is unknown. Research has linked the onset of type 1 diabetes in many people to an autoimmune attack, where the body's own immune system mistakenly destroys the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. Some common symptoms include frequent urination, unusual thirst, extreme hunger, extreme weight loss, and fatigue.
Type 2 Diabetes
Other referred to as adult-onset diabetes, type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes worldwide, comprising at least 90 percent of all cases of diabetes. Unlike type 1 diabetes, people with type 2 diabetes produce insulin, but the body does not respond to it normally, known as insulin resistance. Although anyone can be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, the onset of type 2 diabetes is often correlated to weight gain and obesity. Symptoms of type 2 diabetes can include any of the same symptoms as type 1, but might also include frequent infections, blurred vision, tingling and numbness in the hands and feet, and/or recurring skin, gum, or bladder infections.
This type is a form of diabetes that occurs in the latter half of pregnancy. Although gestational diabetes often goes away after the baby is born, women who develop gestational diabetes during pregnancy are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes later in life. During pregnancy, the placenta produces hormones that may interfere with the body's ability to effectively use insulin to maintain healthy glucose levels, which can lead to a variety of problems for both mother and baby. Gestational diabetes may not cause immediate symptoms. The November National Diabetes Association recommends that all women who are not already diagnosed with diabetes be tested for gestational diabetes between the 24th and 28th week of pregnancy.
The Do's and Don'ts of Exercising with Gestational Diabetes
One important part of any pregnancy, even for those who suffer with gestational diabetes, is moderate physical activity or exercise. One of the best ways to control gestational diabetes is with moderate exercise.
Your blood sugar levels are affected by your exercise and physical activity. According to the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), "for women with gestational diabetes, moderate physical activity helps their bodies' insulin work better, which is an effective way to help control blood sugar levels."
If you have gestational diabetes, the most important thing to do before you exercise is to talk to your doctor about your physical activity. Your doctor will advise you on the best physical activity for you and your baby. As each pregnancy is different, your doctor may ask you not to exercise because of possible complications with your pregnancy.
As part of your pregnancy, your health care practitioner may ask you to keep a daily journal or record of your glucose levels, diet and exercise activity.
Swimming, walking, prenatal aerobic or yoga classes are all considered moderate physical activity. Household chores like vacuuming, shopping or washing dishes are categorized as your daily physical activities. To manage your blood sugar levels, your doctor may ask you to participate in moderate physical activity.
NICHD offers these do's and don'ts of exercising if you have gestational diabetes:
The Do's of exercising with gestational diabetes:
- Wear light and loose clothing so you don't sweat too much or overheat
- Watch your level of exertion. For example, can you talk easily?
- Complete regular or moderate physical activity unless your health care provider tells you not to
- Drink a lot of water before, during, and after your physical activity
- Choose activities like swimming which do not require significant time standing or balancing
- Eat a healthy diet and gain the right amount of weight
The Don'ts of exercising with gestational diabetes:
- Don't perform activities in very hot weather
- Don't fast or skip meals or do physical activity when you are hungry
Don't do any activity while lying on your back when you are in your 2nd or 3rd trimester of pregnancy
- Don't perform activities that may bump or hurt your belly, or that may cause you to lose your balance
- Don't overexert yourself
- Don't get too tired while working out or doing physical activity
The exact amount of exercise, which benefits women with gestational diabetes and lowers blood sugar levels, has not been determined by medical experts.
If you are participating in moderate physical exercise program during your pregnancy and you feel light-headed, overheated, dizzy or sick, stop exercising immediately. Contact your doctor immediately, if these symptoms do not subside after you have stopped exercising.
"What I need to know about Physical Activity and Diabetes - National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse." National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse Home. N.p., n.d. Web. 2 Aug. 2011. http://diabetes.niddk.nih.gov/dm/pubs/physical_ez/#before.
"How to Treat Gestational Diabetes - American Diabetes Association." American Diabetes Association Home Page - American Diabetes Association. N.p., n.d. Web. 2 Aug. 2011.
"What is Gestational Diabetes - American Diabetes Association."
American Diabetes Association Home Page - American Diabetes
Association. N.p., n.d. Web. 2 Aug. 2011.
"Gestational diabetes: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia." National Library of Medicine - National Institutes of Health. N.p., n.d. Web. 2 Aug. 2011.
"Managing Gestational Diabetes ." Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD). N.p., n.d. Web. 2 Aug. 2011.
Reviewed August 3, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg R.N.
Edited by Jody Smith
Content source and copyright ownership is EmpowHER. We value and respect the experiences of all of our HERWriters, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.