An Overview of Diabetes Mellitus

overview of diabetes mellitus


What is Diabetes Mellitus?

Diabetes Mellitus, also known as simply Diabetes, is a group of metabolic diseases that cause high blood glucose levels in your body due to problems in insulin production and/or its function. Glucose is important to your health because it provides energy for the cells that build your muscles and tissues. But, too much of glucose can lead to serious health problems.

Insulin is a hormone released by the pancreas, which allows glucose (sugar) to be absorbed from the blood into the cells. The level of sugar increases in our body if the consumption of insulin by the cells does not happen properly or if the pancreas is not able to produce enough insulin.

The pancreas is an organ in our body which is located behind the stomach.

Symptoms of diabetes can include excessive thirst and hunger, frequent urination, fatigue, and vision problems. Long-term complications of diabetes can include serious problems such as kidney failure, neural disorders, and permanent blindness.

Types of Diabetes

Diabetes is primarily categorized into following categories –

Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes occurs when the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas fail to produce enough insulin. In such cases, your pancreas produces little or no insulin. This means the sugar cannot go into the body's cells for use as energy.

This type of condition develops more frequently in children and young adults. It is the most common form of diabetes in people who are below age 30, but it can occur at any age.

A blood test can diagnose if you have diabetes. People with Type 1 diabetes are given insulin injections to control their blood sugar levels.

Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes generally develops gradually with age due to insulin resistance in the body. The cause of this type of diabetes is however not fully known. But the cells of the body stop to use insulin effectively. As a result, your body’s fat, liver, and muscle cells are unable to utilize glucose for energy building. The glucose continues to remain in your blood. The causes a condition called hyperglycemia.

Type 2 diabetes generally occurs in people who are overweight and follows a sedentary lifestyle. Family history and genetics are also responsible for it to a large extent.

Type 2 diabetes is much more common and accounts for about 90% of all diabetes patients in the world. It occurs most frequently in adults, but is increasingly being noted in young adults as well.

Gestational Diabetes

It is caused due to blood-sugar increase during pregnancy. About three to eight percent of women suffer with it during pregnancy.

As pregnancy progresses, there is a greater need of glucose for the developing baby. Hormone changes during pregnancy also affect the functioning of insulin, which is also a reason for increased blood glucose levels in a pregnant woman.

Gestational diabetes usually resolves in the mother after the baby is born. However, if left untreated, it can lead to serious problems such as high birth weight and breathing problems for the baby.

All pregnant women are tested for gestational diabetes between 24 and 28 weeks of pregnancy, as the problem usually develops at this time.

According to certain reports and studies, women who have gestational diabetes have a much greater chance of developing type 2 diabetes later in life.

Blood glucose levels usually become normal after the birth of baby. However, women who develop gestational diabetes have an increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes later in life.

Can diabetes be cured?

No. Diabetes cannot be cured. However, diabetes can be managed and controlled. Most people with diabetes manage it through diet, lifestyle changes, and medication and lead normal lives.

Facts about diabetes

Whether you are newly diagnosed with diabetes mellitus or have had diabetes for many years, it is helpful to know about this deadly disease. Basic information and statistics is presented here.

  • According to reports and studies, approximately 150 million people have diabetes mellitus worldwide. This number is estimated to double by the year 2025.
  • According to World Health Organization (WHO), the number of people with diabetes has almost quadrupled since 1980. It is more prevalent in low- and middle-income countries.
  • The causes of diabetes are complex, but the increase in number of cases is due to increases in the number of people who are overweight and lack physical activity.
  • It is one of the leading causes of death in the world. According to WHO, in 2012, diabetes was the direct cause of 1.5 million deaths globally.
  • A large number of diabetes cases and its complications can be prevented by a healthy diet, regular physical activity, maintaining a normal body weight and avoiding use of tobacco.
  • Diabetes is among the leading causes of kidney damage, but its frequency depends on the severity and duration of the disease.
  • Heart disease accounts for about 50% of all deaths among people with diabetes in developed countries.
  • Diabetic neuropathy is among the most common complication of diabetes. Studies say that about 50% of people with diabetes have it to some degree.
  • Diabetes of all types can lead to serious complications in several parts of your body and can increase the risk of dying prematurely.

Early diagnosis and intervention is the starting point for living well and managing the diabetes.