The glucose challenge test or GCT test is prescribed to pregnant women who are at a risk of contracting diabetes. Gestational diabetes or diabetes during pregnancy is a common factor seen in pregnant women. Women who are not at risk, genetically, from ever contracting diabetes, are also screened for the occurrence of gestational diabetes. The glucose challenge test is also known as the glucose screening test or the one-hour glucose tolerance test. Based on the result of this test, additional tests are ordered.
The glucose challenge test is done to check for gestational diabetes. When a woman is pregnant, her body might not produce enough insulin to keep the normal levels of glucose in the blood. This leads to the condition known as gestational diabetes. Women who suffer from gestational diabetes are often at a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life.
Gestational diabetes usually does not have any obvious symptoms except women who have this condition might feel more thirsty or might urinate more often. While this type of diabetes is not very uncommon, there is no specific way to determine who might have this. That said, women who are obese and have become pregnant are often told to get the glucose challenge test done during the second trimester or during the 24 and 28 weeks of pregnancy.
Often genetics play a factor in determining if a person is at risk of becoming diabetic. Obesity or disorders of the pancreas can also lead to the person being at risk of having diabetes, especially type 2 diabetes. When such women become pregnant, they are often requested to get the glucose challenge test done early on in pregnancy.
While the majority of the population can deliver healthy babies even with gestational diabetes, the mother and baby are at a risk due to diabetes-induced high blood pressure. This can lead to preeclampsia. Sometimes, babies are born overweight and that affects the delivery procedure.
The glucose sugar challenge test looks for the body’s ability to maintain sugar levels. Insulin is a hormone that is secreted by the pancreas and this hormone acts as a regulator for the glucose levels in the body.
The GCT test is done by testing the blood. Blood samples are collected by experienced phlebotomists and then sealed in a vacutainer to prevent contamination.
Collection of blood for testing does not pose serious side effects or risks. People who are anemic can suffer from dizziness, nausea, or fainting. This can be treated by taking ample rest and vitamin supplements. People can feel bruising around the area from where the syringe was inserted to draw blood. This too goes away with slight massaging and rest.
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Once the mother is reported to have gestational diabetes, she is asked to maintain a lifestyle that balances eating food on time and going on walks. The mother should also monitor her diabetic levels. If the gestational diabetes is stemmed early on, the mother will not be at risk of getting type 2 diabetes in future.
Gestational diabetes is a common occurrence, with at least a million women suffering from it per year in India alone.
Usually, the baby is not affected, except if he/she is overweight. Some cases do report the baby having low blood sugar or obesity.
The glucose challenge test is one by asking the patient to have a sugary drink and wait for an hour. Once the hour is up, the blood is collected and tested. If the levels of glucose are below the stipulated number, the person is not at risk of suffering from gestational diabetes. The normal determinant mark for glucose levels in the blood is 130 to 140 140 mg/dL or milligrams per deciliter.
When the reports show higher than this level, further testing, like a glucose tolerance test, is prescribed. Sometimes, before prescribing the glucose tolerance test, another screening test is done. This time, it is done after a three-hour gap. The patient is requested to not have anything apart from some water for about 8 to 12 hours prior to the test. A glucose solution will be given to drink and blood will be tested after three hours. If this result too comes back as high, the tolerance test is prescribed and prognosis is determined.
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