Diabetes Mellitus is a group of metabolic diseases that is classified by the high glucose levels which result from lack of insulin secretion, or its action, or both. It is more commonly known as diabetes which was first defined as a disease associated with sweet urine and excessive muscle loss during the ancient times. Increased levels of blood glucose, hyperglycemia, can lead to glucose being discharged with urine, hence sweet urine.
Blood glucose levels are controlled by insulin. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas which lowers the blood-glucose level. When food is consumed and digested, our blood-glucose levels become elevated. This would in turn trigger the release of insulin to normalize the blood-glucose levels by promoting the uptake of glucose into our cells. Diabetes affects an estimate of 29.1 million people, 9.3% of the population, in the United States. In addition, another 86 million people may have prediabetes and they do not know it.
Over a long period of time, diabetes may lead to blindness, kidney failure and nerve damage. These are the result of damage to small vessels which is referred to as microvascular disease. Diabetes also plays an important factor in accelerating the hardening and narrowing of the arteries which would then lead to strokes, coronary heart disease and other large blood vessel diseases which is known as macrovascular disease.
Some causes of diabetes are due to the insufficient production of insulin, production of defective insulin or the cell’s inability to use insulin properly and efficiently. The cell’s inability to use insulin properly and efficiently affects mostly the muscle cells as well as fat tissues. This results in insulin resistance which is the main problem in type 2 diabetes. The absolute lack of insulin is the main disorder in type 1 diabetes. In type 2 diabetes, a steady decline of beta cells add on to the process of elevated blood sugars. Basically, if a person is resistant to insulin, the body can, to a certain extent, increase production of insulin thus overcoming the level of resistance. Overtime, if production decreases resulting in a slowdown of the release of insulin, diabetes develops.
There is no definite way to know if you have diabetes without having to undergo blood tests to determine your blood-glucose levels. As a result, many people are unaware that they have diabetes, especially in the early stages when symptoms may not be present.
However, some of the potential early tell-tale signs of diabetes are:
1. Increase urine output which would then lead to dehydration. Dehydration would also cause increased thirst as well as water consumption
2. Weight loss would still occur despite an increase in appetite resulting from a relative or absolute insulin deficiency
4. Nausea and vomiting
5. Frequent infections such as infections of the bladder, skin and vaginal areas.
6. Blurred vision may also occur as a result of fluctuations in blood-glucose levels
Some people are more prone to diabetes due to certain risk factors. Risk factors for type 1 diabetes are not well understood but family history is a known risk factor for type 1. On the other hand, many risk factors are known for type 2 diabetes and some of these factors are:
1. Being overweight or obese
2. High blood pressure
3. Family history
4. Sedentary lifestyle
5. Increasing age