Categories
Blog Article Women's Health

All you need to know about Gestational Diabetes

All you need to know about Gestational Diabetes

Shares

Did you know that gestational diabetes mellitus, also known as GMD, is one of the most common medical complications of pregnancy?

What is GMD? Why does it happen? Can you prevent it? Keep scrolling for answers.

So, let’s start with the basics. What is gestational diabetes?

Gestational diabetes is high blood sugar that develops during pregnancy and usually disappears after giving birth. Many hormones are involved in maintaining the blood sugar level. As the hormone levels fluctuate during pregnancy, they prevent the body from using insulin effectively, leading to insulin resistance. This causes  glucose  build-up in the blood instead of being absorbed by the cells. Typically, the pancreas can make additional insulin to overcome insulin resistance, but when insulin production is not enough to overcome the effect of the placental hormones, gestational diabetes results.

A study conducted by Kai Wei Lee et., found the prevalence of GDM in Asia was 11.5%. GMD can happen at any stage of pregnancy but is more common in the second or third trimester.

But why is that?

Scientists have not been able to identify the exact hormone that causes GDM in pregnant women. But, many scientific theories suggest that as the placenta grows, more and more hormones are released, which increases risk of  insulin resistance. Thus, symptoms of GMD are seen more often in the 2nd and 3rd trimesters. 

What are the symptoms of GMD?

Many women who have GMD do not show symptoms, but the most common ones are: 

  • Increased thirst
  • Urgency to pee more often
  • Dry mouth
  • Tiredness
Gestational Diabetes Causes

These symptoms are relatively common during pregnancy and not necessarily a sign of GMD. If you are pregnant and have noticed these symptoms, you should speak to a VOG doctor or a general physician, via oDoc who will provide a prescription for a lab test. You can carry out the lab tests from the comfort of you home via oLabs too. 

Who is at risk?

GMD can affect any woman, but a list of risk factors identified by scientists increases the chances of developing GMD. 

The risk factors include

  • Being overweight before pregnancy
  • Having a family  history of diabetes 
  • Being Prediabetic (if you have a blood glucose level higher than normal but not high enough to be classed as diabetic.
  • Having PCOS 
  • Being older than 25 as they are at a greater risk for developing gestational diabetes than younger women
  • Having high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, or other medical complications
  • Having  given birth to a large baby (weighing more than 9 pounds)
  • Having had a miscarriage

How does GMD affect the mother and the baby?

More often than not, women who have GMD go on to have normal pregnancies and deliver healthy babies. However, in other circumstances, GMD can lead to:

  • Macrosomia. This is where the baby grows very large as they absorb the excess glucose in the mother’s blood and convert it into fat and are deposited. This leads to difficulties during labour, causing doctors to opt for induced labour and c-section. 
  • Too much amniotic fluid (the fluid that surrounds the baby) in the womb can cause premature labour or problems at delivery, known as polyhydramnios.
  • Premature birth
  • Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) in the baby after delivery. This happens because the mum’s high blood sugar level also causes the baby to have a high blood sugar level, and after birth, it no longer has the high level of sugar from its mother, resulting in the newborn’s blood sugar level becoming very low.
  • Obesity and type 2 diabetes later in life for babies. Babies of mothers with gestational diabetes have a higher risk of developing obesity and type 2 diabetes later in life.
  • Stillbirth. Untreated, gestational diabetes can result in a baby’s death before or shortly after birth.
  • Future diabetes for the mother. If you have gestational diabetes, you’re more likely to get it again during a future pregnancy. You also have a higher risk of type 2 diabetes as you get older.

What are the treatment options?

The American Diabetes Association recommends screening for undiagnosed type 2 diabetes at the first prenatal visit in women with diabetes risk factors. In pregnant women not known to have diabetes, GDM testing should be performed at 24 to 28 weeks of gestation. 

If you are found to have GMD, don’t worry, as it can be treated, and complications can be reduced. The doctor may ask you to monitor your blood sugar level often, exercise often, eat healthily and maybe give insulin injections if necessary. 

How is it prevented?

There are no guarantees for preventing gestational diabetes — but the more healthy habits you can adopt before pregnancy, the better.

So don’t forget to 

  • Eat healthy – Choose foods high in fibre and low in fat and calories.
  • Exercise often – Exercising before and safely during pregnancy can help protect you from developing gestational diabetes.
  • Start pregnancy at a healthy weight. If you’re planning to get pregnant, losing extra weight beforehand may help you have a healthier pregnancy.
Preventing Gestational Diabetes

If you are pregnant and experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above or have any questions, you can speak to one of the Obstetricians, Gynaecologists or GPs on the oDoc app. Click here to download the app.

Sources 

  1. Alfadhli, E., 2015. Gestational diabetes mellitus. Saudi Medical Journal, 36(4), pp.399-406.
  2. Gestational Diabetes Mellitus (GDM). (n.d.). Johns Hopkins Medicine. Retrieved April 6, 2022, from 
  3. Gestational diabetes – Symptoms and causes. (2020, August 26). Mayo Clinic. 
  4. NHS website. (2021, November 29). Gestational diabetes. Nhs.Uk. 
  5. Lee, K.W., Ching, S.M., Ramachandran, V. et al. Prevalence and risk factors of gestational diabetes mellitus in Asia: a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC Pregnancy Childbirth 18, 494 (2018).
Shares

Similar Articles...

Endometriosis

Endometriosis No woman looks forward to “that time of the month.” Dealing with nausea, stomach cramps, mood swings, back pains and fatigue, all whilst facing

Read More »

Channel a doctor in just three taps

Download oDoc Now

Back to oDoc Blog

Categories
Blog Article

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Shares

You’re going about your day as usual but all of a sudden you get abdominal cramping! You brush it off as nothing too serious and chalk it up to maybe being constipated. But you swear you’ve been eating enough veggies and hitting that fiber intake.  And then you remember, “Wasn’t I just having diarrhea a few days ago” ? Maybe it’s that delicious koththu takeout you had that’s giving you stomach discomfort. But you’ve been experiencing these symptoms in and out for quite a few months now. What if I said all these symptoms of stomach discomfort and irregular bowel movements point to a larger underlying illness at hand?

What Is IBS?

IBS, short for irritable bowel syndrome, is rather a common disorder that targets the large intestine which affects 10-15% of the global population. Common signs and symptoms include stomach cramps, bloating, gas, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea or constipation, or both. These tend to come and go over time, and can last for days, weeks or months at a time. Unfortunately, IBS is a chronic condition, so you need to manage it long term. It can be frustrating to live with and may impact your day-to-day life but there are IBS treatments that can alleviate and control your symptoms!

You must be wondering how exactly one gets IBS, however, the exact cause is unknown – it has been linked to food passing through your gut too quickly or too slowly, oversensitive nerves in your gut, stress and a family history of IBS. IBS triggers don’t follow any hard and fast rules. Different people have different triggers, such as certain foods, poor mental health, poor sleep, infections, hormonal changes and changes in gut bacteria.

IBS is a functional disorder which means tests would prove inconclusive as there aren’t structural changes in the large intestine or bowel tissue to identify. This means that it can only be diagnosed by your doctor, who is conveniently only three taps away from being consulted on oDoc!

But try not to stress too much about it because stress can worsen or trigger symptoms because of the brain-gut connection, which we covered in our previous blog. Only a small number of IBS sufferers have severe symptoms and pain.

How IBS Affects The Body

  1. Abdominal cramping. Lower abdominal pain which tends to decrease after a bowel movement. Whilst there are certain medications that ease the pain, you can also try modifying your diet to include less FODMAPs. FODMAPs are small carbs that many people with IBS cannot digest well which may cause hydrogen gas build up leading to bloating and cramps. If you find yourself being sensitive to FODMAP rich foods like legumes, dairy products and high fructose foods (including honey and processed foods with high fructose corn syrup), try cutting them down and see if your symptoms alleviate. Since your sensitivity to FODMAPs may differ to others it’s always best to speak to a gastroenterologist to seek the best course of action. 

2. Changes in bowel movements. Around 1/3 of patients experience diarrhea but others experience  constipation-predominant IBS.. However, unlike diarrhea, if you have constipation the abdominal pain usually eases after the bowel movement and often leaves you with a sensation of an incomplete bowel movement. Having both alternating diarrhea and constipation is one type of IBS that affects about 20% of IBS sufferers. 

3. Gas and Bloating. One of the more frustrating symptoms is bloating. If you have IBS your gut has an altered digestion process, which results in more gas being produced leaving your stomach in an uncomfortable state of fullness and tightness.

Stress Influences IBS

The gut is often referred to as the ‘second brain’ so it’s not surprising that IBS is a stress-sensitive disorder. Clinical studies show that the amount of stress you are under is an important factor for the development of IBS symptoms. Your anxiety and stress induces several hormonal changes which affect your gut and cause that diarrhea and stomach churning that you sadly know all too well!

Try to identify the stressors in your life and develop healthy habits to cope with it like mentioned below! You can also check out our blog on how to reduce anxiety as well!

  1. Deep breathing exercises such as in meditation or yoga send messages to your brain to calm down and relax.
  2. You can also seek mental health services to learn better coping mechanisms and other cognitive-behavioral techniques to identify and combat your stress. Whilst mental health may be a stigmatized topic in Sri Lanka, oDoc offers you a private, quick and easy way to consult qualified mental health professionals from the comfort of your own home who are simply three taps away!

3. You need to make sure you get adequate sleep. At least seven to eight hours per night. Getting plenty of sleep will reassure your body it’s not in a state of distress!

4. Exercise the stress away! Exercise releases feel-good chemicals in the brain called endorphins. These are natural painkillers which elevate your mood. This probably explains why going to the gym even on days you don’t feel like dragging yourself there, is bound to lift your spirits!

When To See A Doctor

Since symptoms differ from person to person it’s important to consult either your GP or a gastroenterologist so they can provide you with a proper diagnosis and rule out other diseases.  However, if you notice a change in the pattern of your symptoms or new symptoms (such as changes in bowel movement or a different type of pain that significantly interferes with your daily activities) consult with your doctor straight away on oDoc.

Download oDoc today on the App Store or Play store.

References

  1. What Is IBS?, NHS (2021)
  2. 9 Signs And Symptoms Of IBS, Healthline (2019)
  3. Impact Of Psychological Stress On Irritable Bowel Syndrome, NCBI (2014)
  4. How Stress and Anxiety Can Aggravate IBS Symptoms, Healthline (2017)

  

Shares

Similar Articles...

stress

How To Manage Stress

With the cost of living rising rapidly by the day, the currency devaluing, and the country falling into economic decline, it is no surprise that

Read More »

Channel a doctor in just three taps

Download oDoc Now

Back to oDoc Blog

Categories
Blog Article

The Gut-Brain Connection

The Gut Brain Connection

Shares
gut brain connection

Ever heard of the phrase ‘gut feeling’ or felt the ‘butterflies’ in your stomach? These experiences can be explained by the gut-brain axis, the communication network that connects the brain and gut, physically and biochemically. This may seem like a minor thing, right? That is until you realise it’s essentially like our ‘second brain’. Yup you read that right! Who knew that hidden in our digestive system are two thin layers of over 100 million nerve cells that dutifully line our intestine all the way from gullet to rectum. They make up what is known as the enteric nervous system (ENS).

Let’s see how our ‘second brain’ interacts with the rest of our body!

How Gut Health Affects Our Body

Are you  wondering how on earth your brain directly connects to your gut? The answer is simple (unlike the many complex tasks it carries out)! The Vagus nerve is an important two way connector between the brain and gut. It’s found to play a crucial role in our thoughts, feelings and behaviours.

Stress is noted to inhibit the signals along this nerve causing intestinal distress. You may experience this phenomenon more often if you suffer from pesky IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) as it reduces Vagus nerve function.

Alternatively, do you ever find yourself battling against big emotional shifts like heightened or irrational fear, anxiety and stress? This may be triggered by your ENS.  So if you suffer from IBS or any other functional bowel problems, you have a higher chance of being diagnosed with psychological disorders like depression and anxiety because of this connection resulting in poorer mental health!

Neurotransmitters are chemicals that control feelings and emotions. These are mainly produced in the brain but also by our gut cells and the trillions of microbes that live there! For example, a large proportion of the serotonin neurotransmitter associated with happy feelings is produced in the gut. Gut microbes also make the GABA neurotransmitter, which helps control fear and anxiety.

It’s important to note that these chemicals released by gut microbes also affect brain function. So preserving our ‘second brain’ will eventually support our real brain! Poor gut health results in the microbes releasing lipopolysaccharide (LPS), an inflammatory toxin made by certain bacteria that enters the bloodstream and causes inflammation especially in those with higher intestinal permeability. Inflammation and high LPS in the blood have been associated with a number of brain disorders including severe depression, dementia and schizophrenia.

Consequences Of Ignoring Gut Health

Your gut is a giant chemical factory that helps you digest food, regulate hormones and produce healing compounds to keep your entire body healthy.  When the gut starts to break down, it won’t be long before the rest of your body starts to break down too!

Imagine this, you’re building a house and for the foundation you carefully lay bricks and cement it all together to protect its inhabitants from the dangers outside. Now, transferring this analogy, our own intestinal wall has to be intact to prevent the passage of dangerous toxins, pathogens, and other proinflammatory substances into the human body. If it fails to do so and is more ‘naive and friendly’ it will let these enemies permeate our defence lines and wage war on us! This may result in system wide inflammation and cause disease.

The ‘leaky gut hypothesis’ explains that poor intestinal barrier function may induce chronic inflammatory changes in the target organs by virtue of those little microbial products produced in the gut that cross over into the body.

Just like a poor foundation will result in a house that will crumble, poor intestine health and its increased permeability have been found in many diseases like inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), irritable bowel syndrome, type 1 and type 2 diabetes, depression, and more.

Foods That Will Better Your Gut Health

                                          Eating a diverse range of foods will result in, you guessed it, a diverse microbiome!

  1. Up the fibre:  In particular, legumes, whole grains, beans and fresh fruit which contain lots of fibre and can promote the growth of healthy bacteria which then helps digest fibre, produce important chemicals like B vitamins and prevent infections from other bacteria like E. coli. The fibre feeds your gut microbes and helps them do their job, which is to protect you! Remember apart from being fibre rich, these plant-based foods are also great sources of other longevity-supporting nutrients, like antioxidants which are known to prevent chronic inflammation.
  2.  Eat. Fermented. Foods! They contain healthy bacteria and can reduce the number of disease-causing species in the gut. These foods include yoghurt, curd, tofu and miso paste. Who knew such sour foods could be so sweet to our body!
  3. You’ve heard of probiotics but what about prebiotics? They are different from probiotics in that they promote the growth of healthy bacteria in your gut whilst probiotics either consumed as a supplement or found in naturally fermented foods are live bacteria that can help restore the gut to a healthy state after dysbiosis, which happens when gut bacteria become an unbalanced. Prebiotic rich food includes artichokes, bananas, asparagus, oats and apples. 

4. Eat polyphenol rich foods! These plant compounds are found in red wine, green tea, dark chocolate, coffee and whole grains. These foods contain plenty of antioxidants and also help your gut find the good bacteria army!

5. Do you often crave that sugar ‘high’? Do you  ‘inhale’ those delicious sweets  when you’re feeling stressed or when you feel … wait, I mean who needs an excuse to eat sweets anyways! We all just eat sweets because they’re such a treat! These days however pretty much everyone has heard the diet craze of cutting out refined sugar BUT some people often mistranslated this to EAT ARTIFICAL SWEETNERS. Hmmm … raise your hands if you’ve done this! Artificial sweeteners have been linked to increasing the growth of unhealthy bacteria in the gut microbiome.

6. When you think of the word antibiotics, you think it’s a miracle cure to your infections. But think of antibiotics like a hyperactive child. This child will love to play with all the toys in the room, just like your antibiotics  fighting off  bad bacteria in the body, but this kid will play with the room’s furniture even though it’s not meant to be played with. Just like that, antibiotics may also fight off your good bacteria too. So, use it only when necessary!

If you have any concerns regarding your gut health, you can speak to a doctor via the oDoc app from the comfort and privacy of your home. GPs and Specialised doctors like gastroenterologists are also available to consult.

Download oDoc today on the App Store or Play store.

References

  1. The Brain-Gut Connection, Johns Hopkins (2022)
  2. Gut Health and Pain – Part 3: Your Gut and Stress, Northern Pain Centre (2021) 
  3. The Gut-Brain Connection: How it Works and The Role of Nutrition, Healthline (2020)
  4. Increased Intestinal Permeability and Decreased Barrier Function: Does It Really Influence the Risk of Inflammation?, NCBI (2016)
  5. Here’s How the Longest-Living People on the Planet Maintain Optimal Gut Health, Well + Good (2022)
Shares

Similar Articles...

stress

How To Manage Stress

With the cost of living rising rapidly by the day, the currency devaluing, and the country falling into economic decline, it is no surprise that

Read More »

Channel a doctor in just three taps

Download oDoc Now

Back to oDoc Blog

Categories
Blog Article

What is the pelvic floor and why is it so important?

What is the pelvic floor and why is it so important?

Shares
When you think of exercise, you might think focusing on muscle groups such as the abs, legs, back and arms. While all those areas are important, we can’t forget to exercise the muscles that we can’t particularly see or feel. We’re talking about the pelvic floor muscles. Have you ever sneezed, coughed or laughed and found yourself peeing a little? You’re not alone! This could be due to weak pelvic floor muscles. Problems with the pelvic floor are common and could happen to anyone. Incontinence, painful sex and lower back pain are some of the challenges that can arise due to a weak pelvic floor. Here’s what you need to know!

What is the pelvic floor?

The pelvic floor comprises of muscles and connective tissues that are attached to your pelvis and are vital in supporting your bladder, urethra, intestines and rectum. In women, the pelvic floor also supports the uterus and the vagina. You could think about the pelvic floor as a shelf for your organs, so a strong shelf means a more secure support system for your organs.

How do you find pelvic floor muscles?

A good way to visualize the pelvic floor and its function is to picture these muscles at the bottom of the pelvis. When you have a full bladder and you’re trying to stop urine flow, you’re contracting the pelvic floor.

Another way to find those muscles while standing is to imagine that you need to pass gas but don’t want to let it out. The muscles you’re activating to hold it in, that is those surrounding your rectum and anus, make up part of your pelvic floor.

When engaging the pelvic floor, make sure to use all these muscles that span the bottom of your pelvis. If you only contract the muscles that stop the flow of urine but not the rectal muscles, you’re not getting a full contraction and therefore, the pelvic floor does not get strengthened. Imagine a sensation of hugging your organs from the bottom up.

It’s important to learn how to tighten and relax these muscles for optimal pelvic floor function. As you’re going about your daily routine, check in with yourself to see if you’re contracting these muscles and to what intensity.

Why is it important to maintain a strong pelvic floor?

  • Strengthening your pelvic floor allows you to better support the bladder, bowels and uterus, helping with bladder and bowel control.
  • A strong pelvic floor also protects against uterine prolapse, when the uterus loses support and bulges out of the vagina
  • For women, a strong pelvic floor can help during labor and delivery
  • Strengthening the pelvic floor can lead to better sex for both men and women. Experts say that strengthening these muscles can potentially improve erectile dysfunction issues as well as boost sexual sensation for women.

How do you strengthen your pelvic floor muscles?

Both contracting and relaxing your pelvic floor muscles is key, and not just solely focusing on contraction.

Kegel exercises help with contraction of the muscles.

  • Find the right muscles as mentioned above
  • Imagine you’re sitting on an exercise ball with a marble inside of it. Picture vacuuming up the marble using pelvic floor muscles. Tighten for 3 seconds to lift the marble.
  • Relax for 3 seconds by taking a deep breath in and feel the air pouring into your lungs, your abdomen and down to your pelvic floor like a jug of water.
  • Make sure to not tighten your abs, thighs or butt and to keep breathing instead of holding your breath
  • Do 3 sets of 10 contractions and try to incorporate this exercise throughout your day

Relax your pelvic floor by incorporating some of these movements into your exercise routines.

pelvic floor exercises

You may think pelvic health is not an important factor to consider when looking at your overall health. But a strong pelvic floor can do wonders for you when it comes to your reproductive system, your sex life and your confidence (no leakages!).

If you’re having bowel or bladder control problems or pain during sex, speak to a physiotherapist or sexual health practitioner on oDoc who can help you find the right treatment. Download the app now.

Sources:

  • 9 Things You Might Not Know About A Pelvic Floor And Why It Matters, 2021, Mind Body Green
  • 5 Pelvic Floor Exercises for Anyone and Everyone, 2021, Healthline
  • What are pelvic floor exercises, 2020, NHS
Shares

Similar Articles...

Endometriosis

Endometriosis No woman looks forward to “that time of the month.” Dealing with nausea, stomach cramps, mood swings, back pains and fatigue, all whilst facing

Read More »

Channel a doctor in just three taps

Download oDoc Now

Back to oDoc Blog

Categories
Blog Article

Your little boy’s shift from squeaky to deep! – Parents, here’s what your teen needs to know

Your little boy’s shift from squeaky to deep! - Parents, here’s what your teen needs to know

Shares

What’s Puberty?

Even when kids are younger, they start asking questions about their bodies and even yours. It can be stressful if you aren’t prepared or sure about the answers, but it doesn’t have to be that way! If you start early and talk to them often, then talking about puberty when they get older will be a lot easier.

To help you out, here are some facts about their changing bodies as they grow from being your little boy to a teen who’s going through puberty.

Puberty is the stage of life when a child’s body transitions into an adult body capable of sexual reproduction. Puberty is a normal and healthy part of development for girls and boys. Hormonal changes result in sexual and other physical maturation that happens during puberty.

What changes will happen during puberty?

Puberty starts a bit later, between 10 and 14 years of age for most boys.

There are certain stages of development that boys go through when developing secondary sex characteristics.

  • The first puberty change is the enlargement of the scrotum and testes. 
  • Hair will start to grow in the genital area. Boys will also have hair growth on their faces, under their arms, and on their legs.
  • The pubic hair eventually looks like adult hair, but in a smaller area. It may spread to the thighs and sometimes up the stomach.
  • Body size will increase. Sometimes the feet, arms, legs, and hands may grow faster than the rest of the body, and this may cause a teen to feel clumsy.
  • Some boys may get some swelling in the breast area. This is a common  result of the hormonal changes that are happening.
  • Voice changes may happen as the voice gets deeper. 
  • As the penis enlarges, he may begin to have erections. This is when the penis becomes hard and erect because it is filled with blood. This is due to hormonal changes and may happen when the boy fantasises about sexual things. Or it may happen for no reason at all, and this is normal.
  • During puberty, a boy’s body also begins making sperm. Semen, made up of sperm and other body fluids, may be released during an erection, called ejaculation. Sometimes it may happen while the teen sleeps, which is called a wet dream (nocturnal emission). This is a normal part of puberty. Once the sperm has been made and ejaculation happens, teen boys who have sex can get someone pregnant.

As your adolescent begins to struggle for independence and control, many changes may happen. The following are some issues that your adolescent could face during these years:

  • Wants independence from parents
  • Peer influence and acceptance becomes significant
  • Romantic and sexual relationships become important
  • May fall in love

How to assist your adolescent in developing socially?

Puberty can be challenging for both kids and parents. In addition to causing many physical changes, hormones are also causing emotional changes. You may notice your child is moody or behaving differently. 

It’s essential to make a conscious effort to react with patience and understanding. Your child may be feeling insecure about their changing body, including their acne. 

Talk about these changes and reassure your child that it’s a normal part of maturing. However, if something is particularly troubling, talk to a doctor via oDoc.

Consider the following as ways to foster your adolescent’s social abilities:

  • Encourage your adolescent to take on new challenges.
  • Talk with your adolescent about not losing sight of oneself in group relations.
  • Encourage your adolescent to talk to a trusted adult about problems or concerns, even if it is not you that they choose to speak.
  • Talk to them regarding ways to manage and handle stress.
  • Provide consistent, loving discipline with limits, restrictions, and rewards.
  • Find ways to spend time together.

If you have any concerns regarding your son’s sexual growth, you can speak to a doctor via the oDoc app from the comfort and privacy of your home. GPs and Family Physicians are also available to consult.

Download oDoc today on the App Store or Play store.

References

  1. Puberty: Adolescent Male, Johns Hopkins (2021)
  2. The Growing Child: Adolescent 13 to 18 Years, Johns Hopkins (2021)
  3. The Stages of Puberty: Development in Girls and Boys, Healthline (2018)
  4. Physical Development in Boys: What to Expect, healthychildren.org (2015)
Shares