Diabetes mellitus, commonly referred to as diabetes, is a chronic condition affecting the ability of the body to use energy obtained from food. It is an autoimmune disease.
Diabetes is of three major types:
- Type 1 diabetes
- Type 2 diabetes
- Gestational diabetes
Each type of diabetes mellitus has something in common. Generally, the body breaks down sugars and carbohydrates consumed into glucose, a special sugar. Glucose fuels all the cells in the body. However, the cells require insulin, a hormone, in the bloodstream to take in glucose & use it for energy. When a person has diabetes mellitus, the body either does not make sufficient insulin or it cannot make use of insulin it produces; sometimes the combination of both occurs.
As the cells cannot take in the glucose, it tends to build up in the blood. High blood glucose levels can damage the petite blood vessels in the heart, eyes, kidneys, or the nervous system. That is why diabetes, when left untreated, can lead to stroke, heart disease, kidney disease, nerve damage and blindness.
Causes of diabetes
Health care providers don’t know the exact cause of diabetes. However, the following factors are known to increase the chance of getting diabetes:
- Asian-America, African-American, Hispanic, or Native American race or ethnic background
- Being overweight
- Family history of diabetes
- Physical stress
- njury to pancreas owing to infection, surgery, tumor, or accident
- Use of specific medications like steroid & blood pressure medications
- Autoimmune diseases
- Abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels in the blood
- High blood pressure
- Age (risk seems to increase with age)
- Consumption of alcohol
- Pregnancy (gestational diabetes)
Well, it is vital to note that just sugar doesn’t cause diabetes. Consuming a lot of sugar may lead to tooth decay, but may not cause diabetes.
Most common signs & symptoms of diabetes include:
- Frequent urination
- Intense hunger
- Disproportionate thirst
- Weight gain
- Unusual weight loss
- Increased fatigue
- Cuts & bruises do not heal properly / quickly
- Blurred vision
- More skin & yeast infections
- Gums become red and/or swollen – they pull away from teeth
- Frequent gum disease/infection
- Itchy skin
- Numbness or tingling, particularly in feet and hands
- Sexual dysfunction among men
Diagnosis of Diabetes Mellitus
Diabetes is often detected by performing a urine test to find out whether or not excess glucose is present. And, this is usually backed up by a complete blood test that measures blood glucose levels & can possibly confirm whether the cause of the symptoms is diabetes.
Treatment of Diabetes Mellitus
People suffering from diabetes should take responsibility for their daily care. This probably includes monitoring of blood glucose levels, maintaining physical activity, dietary management, keeping stress and weight under control, monitoring oral medications & if required use of insulin.