What is Diabetes Mellitus?
Diabetes is a condition that results in high blood sugar (glucose) levels in the body. When the pancreas does not secrete enough insulin, high blood sugar levels result.
This may occur for one of two reasons: either the pancreas is not making enough insulin or the cells are unresponsive to the insulin that is being produced. Excess glucose in the blood is eliminated in the urine via the kidneys.
Insulin, a peptide hormone, is produced by the beta cells in our pancreas and is responsible for helping certain cells in the body absorb glucose or blood sugar and convert it into energy. Therefore, insulin is crucial in regulating fat and carbohydrate metabolism within our body.
Once control of insulin levels fail, the blood glucose or blood sugar level in the body can reach dangerously high levels, and Diabetes mellitus can result. This disease is considered to be a chronic disorder of carbohydrate, protein and fat metabolism.
If left untreated, this condition can have detrimental effects to your level of well-being. Many vital organs, including the heart and your circulatory system, the kidneys and the eyes may be adversely affected.
Symptoms of Diabetes
There are 3 classical symptoms of Diabetes, which may be remembered as the 3P’s:
- Polydipsia or frequent thirst,
- Polyuria or frequent urination and
- Polyphagia or frequent hunger.
Additional symptoms to be aware of include:
- Severe weight loss or emaciation can occur despite being excessively hungry
- Skin ulcers that appear anywhere on the body and are slow to heal
- Loss of tactile sensation in the fingertips
- In women, there may be itching of the vulvae present
- In men there may be inflammation of the glans penis.
Having continually elevated levels of blood glucose can cause changes in the shape of the lens in the eye, due to glucose absorption in the lens itself. This can result in vision changes and many people complain of blurred vision prior to being diagnosed with diabetes.
Diabetic dermadromes is a term describing a collective number of cutaneous conditions of the skin that are also commonly experienced by patients who have had Diabetes for some time.
Different Types of Diabetes
There are 3 main kinds of Diabetes mellitus: Type 1 DM, Type 2 DM and Gestational Diabetes. Other kinds of Diabetes mellitus include: Cystic Fibrosis related diabetes, different kinds of Monogenic Diabetes, Congenital Diabetes due to genetic defects of insulin production and Steroid Diabetes, induced through high doses of glucocorticoids.
- Type 1 Diabetes mellitus
This type of Diabetes requires daily insulin injections or wearing an insulin pump to regulate levels.
- Type 2 Diabetes mellitus
Type 2 DM, results from an insulin resistance. In this condition, the cells fail to use the insulin produced by the pancreas correctly. This condition may also be combined with a complete insulin deficiency in some cases.
- Gestational Diabetes
Gestational Diabetes is a form that occurs in pregnant women. Often there is no previous diagnosis of diabetes and the high blood glucose level may return to normal after delivery.
In some cases, this may precede development of Type 2 DM; however, many women only require medication and monitoring for the duration of their pregnancy.