What is Diabetes Mellitus?
Diabetes Mellitus is a group of metabolic diseases characterized by high Blood Sugar (Glucose) levels, which result from defects in insulin secretion, or action, or both. Diabetes Mellitus, commonly referred to as Diabetes, means “sweet urine”. Elevated levels of Blood Glucose (Hyperglycemia) lead to spillage of Glucose into the urine, hence the term “sweet urine”. Normally, Blood Glucose levels are tightly controlled by Insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas. Insulin lowers the Blood Glucose level. When the Blood Glucose elevates (for example, after eating food), insulin is released from the pancreas to normalize the glucose level. In patients with Diabetes Mellitus, the absence or insufficient production of Insulin causes Hyperglycemia. Diabetes Mellitus is a chronic medical condition, meaning it can last a lifetime.
Over time, Diabetes Mellitus can lead to blindness, kidney failure, and nerve damage. Diabetes Mellitus is also an important factor in accelerating the hardening and narrowing of the arteries (Arteriosclerosis), leading to strokes, coronary heart diseases, and other blood vessel diseases.
Every human being must maintain a set distribution of glucose and salts between the blood and body tissues. If any of the ingredients above get too high or too low in any of the two compartments, problems will result. Glucose levels in the blood result from a balance of:
- The diet… sugar absorbed from the gut after food and drink are ingested
- The liver in the body makes glucose from a variety of substances inclusive of the building blocks of fats and proteins, i.e. fatty acids and amino acids respectively.
- Insulin, produced by special cells of the pancreas and which helps the tissues to take up glucose form the blood
- Glucagons produced by special cells of the pancreas different from those mentioned above. Adrenaline and Cortisol produced by a gland adjacent to the kidney these substance increase glucose output from the liver.
Exercise encourages the tissues to take up glucose from the blood. When an imbalance in a-e occurs to increase the glucose level in the blood, then there results in a decrease in the glucose in the body tissues. The tissues in trying to obtain energy, breaks down fat and protein and so the building blocks thus released, also accumulate the glucose in the blood. Therefore, in the problem of diabetes there is an accumulation in the blood of glucose and other substances such as fat and protein breakdown products; whilst the tissues themselves are starved of glucose. This condition can arise as a result of:
- Inadequate production of insulin by the pancreas
- Problems of insulin reaching the body tissues inadequate response of the tissues to insulin
Inadequate production can be due to damage to the pancreas such as viral infections, antibody attack, cancer, etc. Malnutrition predisposes to the damage of the pancreas. Problems of insulin reaching the body tissues can be due to antibody attack on insulin in the blood. Inadequate response of the tissues to insulin is seen in obesity, antibody attacks on the recognition sites for insulin, improper response of the tissues after insulin has acted. All these and more can be the cause of diabetes.
Type l indicates the processes of beta-cell destruction that may ultimately lead to Diabetes Mellitus in which insulin is required for “survival” to prevent the development of ketoacidosis, coma and death. An individual with a Type l process may be metabolically normal before the disease is clinically manifest, but the process of beta-cell destruction can be detected. Type l is usually characterized by the presence of anti-GAD, islet cell or insulin antibodies which identify the autoimmune processes that lead to beta-cell destruction.
In Type l diabetes, your body stops making insulin or make only a tiny amount. When this happens, you need to take insulin to live and to be healthy. Without insulin, glucose cannot get into your cells. (Your cells need glucose to burn for energy.) Glucose collects in the blood. Over time, high levels of glucose in the blood may hurt your eyes, kidneys, nerves, heart, and blood vessels. Type l Diabetes occurs most often in people under age 30. But it can occur at any age. The signs of Type l Diabetes can come on suddenly and be severe.
Signs of Type l Diabetes
- Frequent Urination
- Fatigue Constant
- Hunger Edginess
- Constant Thirst Mood Changes
- Weight Loss
Causes of Type l Diabetes
No one knows for sure why people get Type l Diabetes. Some people are born with genes that make them more likely to get it. But many other people with those same genes do not get diabetes. Something else inside or outside the body triggers the disease. Experts do not know what that something is yet. But they are trying to find out.
Most people with Type l Diabetes have high levels of autoantibodies in their blood sometime before they are first diagnosed with the disease. Antibodies are proteins your body makes to destroy bacteria or viruses. Autoantibodies are antibodies that have “gone bad”. They attack your body’s own tissues. In these people who get Type l Diabetes, autoantibodies may attack insulin or the cells that make insulin.
Treatment of Type 1 Diabetes
There is no cure for Diabetes. However, there are things you can do to care for Type 1 Diabetes. The things you do to care for your Diabetes help you bring blood glucose levels within your range.
- Take insulin. Insulin injections or an insulin pump replace the insulin you no longer make. Insulin lets your cells take in glucose.
- Follow a healthy meal plan (see a Nutritionist).
- Stay physically active. Being active helps your cells take in glucose.
- Check your blood glucose and urine ketones. Self-checks help you keep track of how well your diabetes care plan is working.
- Get regular checkups. Your health care team can help you make any needed changes in your Diabetes care plan.
Type II Diabetes
Type ll Diabetes is the most common form of Diabetes and is characterized by disorders of insulin action and insulin secretion, either of which may be the predominant feature. Both are usually present at the time that this form of Diabetes is clinically manifest.
In Type ll Diabetes, your body does not make enough insulin, or has trouble using the insulin, or both. A person with Type ll Diabetes might inject insulin but does not depend on it to live. If there is not enough insulin or if it is not working right, your cells cannot use the glucose in your blood to make energy. Instead, glucose stays in the blood. This can lead to high blood glucose levels. Over time, high blood glucose levels may hurt your eyes, kidneys, nerves, heart, and blood vessels. Most people who get Type ll Diabetes are over 40 years old. But it may occur in younger people. Often, there are no signs of the disease.
Signs of Type ll Diabetes
- Frequent Urination
- Tingling or numb hands or feet
- Constant thirst
- Constant Hunger
- Weight Loss
- Dry, itchy skin
- Blurred vision
- Infections of the skin, gums, bladder, or vagina that keep coming back or heal slowly
Causes of Type ll Diabetes
Experts do not know for sure what causes Type ll Diabetes. They do know that you cannot catch it from someone else, like the flu. They know it is not caused by eating too much sugar. It is hereditary. If other members of your family have Type ll Diabetes, you are more likely to get it. However, it usually takes something else to bring on the disease.
For many people with Diabetes, being overweight brings it on. When you are over weight, your body has a harder time using the insulin that it makes. This is called insulin resistance. In insulin resistance, your pancreas keeps making insulin to lower blood glucose, but your body does not respond to the insulin as it should. After years of this, your pancreas may just burn out.
Treatment of Type ll Diabetes
There is no cure for diabetes. However, there are things you can do to treat it yourself. At first, eating healthier foods and doing more exercise or activity may help you lose weight. Losing weight may help you get your blood glucose levels into a more normal range and help your body use the insulin it has. If this does not bring your blood glucose levels down to where you want them, you may need to take diabetes pills.
Diabetes pills are drugs that lower blood glucose levels. They are not insulin. If eating healthier foods, increasing activity, and taking diabetes pills do not lower your blood glucose enough, you may need to add insulin, or you may need to use insulin instead of diabetes pills.
To find out how your treatments are working, there are two things you can do:
- Check your blood glucose levels
- Have regular medical checkups.