Hyperglycemia is a condition characterized by high blood sugar levels. When this occurs during pregnancy, but not prior to pregnancy, it is called gestational diabetes. Hyperglycemia that exists before and during pregnancy can cause health risks to the mother and the unborn baby. Gestational diabetes is mostly risky to the unborn baby. Symptoms of high blood sugar are the same whether the condition begins in pregnancy or before. The only real difference is that a woman who has not experienced hyperglycemia may not understand the underlying causes of the symptoms she is experiencing.
Women are routinely screened for gestational diabetes. The Mayo Clinic suggests that this type of diabetes can go unnoticed due to a lack of symptoms (asymptomatic). Women who were dealing with hyperglycemia before pregnancy will continue to experience the same symptoms as before the pregnancy.
Eastern Virginia Medical School Division of Maternal Fetal Medicine (EVMS) suggests a woman with hyperglycemia in pregnancy may have an increase in thirst. Despite drinking fluids, she may continue to feel thirsty.
Pregnancy is a time when a woman may experience an increase in urination. A woman with hyperglycemia may notice that she not only has more frequent urges to urinate, but that she also has a larger urine output. These symptoms can be difficult to discern from typical pregnancy symptoms.
Nausea and Vomiting
Nausea and vomiting may accompany hyperglycemia during pregnancy. A woman may also lose her appetite, says EVMS. Some abdominal cramping or pain may accompany the other symptoms of high blood sugar levels. These symptoms can also be difficult to discern from typical symptoms of pregnancy, especially during the first trimester.
With all the other changes going on, a pregnant woman may not realize her weakness or increased fatigue is due to hyperglycemia. The Ohio State University Medical Center points out that a woman may feel tired, sleepy, moody, grumpy or may notice blurred vision with high blood sugar levels. These symptoms may not improve throughout the day or may get worse after eating or after a long period without food.
Vaginal itching or infection may be a sign of high blood sugar as well. This is due to increased sugary secretions near and by the vagina, which feeds bacteria and/or fungus. The result can be a bacterial or yeast infection of the vagina. Women with high blood sugar may not heal as quickly from external wounds, including small cuts. General numbness of the extremities can also be a sign of hyperglycemia.