What is diabetes?
Diabetes Mellitus, commonly referred to as "diabetes," means
"sweet urine." Diabetes mellitus means "to flow, honey" in
It is a disease that affects the body's ability
to produce or respond to insulin, a hormone that allows blood glucose (blood
sugar) to enter the cells of the body and be used for energy. It results from
defects in insulin secretion, insulin action, or both. In diabetes too much
glucose stays in the blood. Elevated levels of blood glucose (hyperglycemia)
lead to spillage of glucose into the urine.
As a result of elevated levels of blood
glucose, two problems occur: body cells become starved for energy, and, over
time, the high glucose levels can damage the nerves, eyes, kidneys, heart and
Diabetes is not an infectious disease, like
a cold or flu. You can’t "catch" it from someone else, and no
one can catch it from you. Diabetes is a lifelong disease.
- excessive thirst
- excessive urination
- frequent infections such as thrush
- extreme hunger
- unusual weight loss
- extreme fatigue
- sweet smelling breath
with diabetes often have erectile dysfunction which can begin before the
diagnosis of diabetes is made. It is therefore recommended that men with
unexplained erectile dysfunction be screened for diabetes with a fasting
blood glucose test.
How is diabetes mellitus diagnosed?
Diabetes can be diagnosed by performing a fasting plasma glucose test. The test
is as follows: After the person has fasted overnight (at least 8 hours), a
sample of blood is drawn and sent to the laboratory for analysis.
Normal fasting plasma glucose levels are
less than 110 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl). Fasting plasma glucose levels
of more than 126 mg/dl on two or more tests on different days indicate
There are 4 main types of diabetes:
- Insulin-Dependent Diabetes Mellitus (IDDM)
- Non Insulin-Dependent Diabetes Mellitus (NIDDM)
- Gestational Diabetes (diabetes in pregnancy)
- Secondary Diabetes
Insulin dependent diabetes was also called
Type 1 diabetes, or juvenille diabetes because it
usually starts early in life. Non-insulin dependent diabetes was also called
Type 2 diabetes or adult-onset diabetes because it came on later in life. A
person who starts with non-insulin dependent diabetes may eventually need
Secondary diabetes mellitus refers to
elevated blood sugar levels that develop as the result of another medical
condition. Secondary diabetes mellitus also develops when the pancreatic tissue
responsible for the production of insulin is absent because it is destroyed by
disease, such as chronic pancreatitis, trauma, or surgical removal of the
pancreas. Diabetes can also result from other hormonal disturbances, such as
excessive growth hormone production (acromegaly) and
Cure for diabetes?
A cure for Diabetes has not been found yet, however, it can be controlled. Ways
to control diabetes are: maintaining blood glucose levels, blood fat levels and
weight. Blood glucose levels can be maintained by following a diet designed by
your doctor, exercising, and eating at regular intervals.
Treatment options for diabetes
Some of the most common treatment options are: oral
medicines (diabetes pills), dietary changes, exercise, insulin and Islet Cell
Transplantation. The oral medicines may have negative side effects including:
nausea, diarrhea, metallic taste in mouth, low blood glucose, skin rash or
itching, and weight gain. Rare side effects are liver failure, respiratory
infection, headache, and pain
How does exercise help control
Exercise is very important to maintaining a healthy life and managing diabetes.
Combining diet, exercise, and medicine (when prescribed by your doctor) will
help control your weight and blood sugar level. Exercise is good for you
- It lowers blood sugar by speeding the transport of glucose in the
cells. (Known as invisible insulin.)
- It helps promote weight loss and maintenance of ideal body weight.
- It decreases cardiovascular risk by making heart pump more
- It improves circulation.
- It reduces demands on the pancreas.
- It improves our muscular tone.
- It reduces stress.
Diabetes and your health care
Controlling diabetes is very important and should be
supervised by a medical doctor. When diabetes is controlled, it will help
prevent serious complications such as: infections, kidney damage, eye damage,
nerve damage to feet and heart disease. Complications can be avoided by
aggressively controlling sugar levels, cholesterol levels, and high blood
You should inform your doctor if you have
experienced any symptoms of eye, nerve, kidney, or cardiovascular problems such
as: blurred vision, numbness or tingling in your feet, persistent hand, feet,
face, or leg swelling, cramping or pain in the legs, chest pain, shortness of
breath, numbness or weakness on one side of your body, or unusual weight gain.
It is important that you tell your doctor if
you are experiencing these symptoms because they might be symptoms of other
Common complications of diabetes are:
- Heart disease
- Diabetic retinopathy
- Kidney disease
Diabetes and pregnancy
Women who have diabetes can become pregnant. However, the woman will have
special health concerns, such as keeping blood glucose (sugar) levels in good
control, managing diabetes medications, adjusting meal plans, and exercising
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