Diabetes mellitus, commonly known as diabetes, is a metabolic disease that causes high blood sugar. Diabetes is a number of diseases that involve problems with the hormone insulin. Normally, the pancreas (an organ behind the stomach) releases insulin to help your body store and use the sugar and fat from the food you eat. Diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs either when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or when the body cannot effectively use the insulin it produces. Insulin is a hormone that regulates blood sugar. Hyperglycaemia, or raised blood sugar, is a common effect of uncontrolled diabetes and over time leads to serious damage to many of the body’s systems, especially the nerves and blood vessels.
TYPES OF DIABETES
There are a few different types of diabetes:
Type 1 diabetes
It is an autoimmune disease. Type 1 diabetes occurs because the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas (called beta cells) are destroyed by the immune system. People with Type 1 diabetes produce no insulin and must use insulin injections to control their blood glucose. Symptoms include excessive excretion of urine (polyuria), thirst (polydipsia), constant hunger, weight loss, vision changes, and fatigue. These symptoms may occur suddenly.
Type 2 Diabetes
Unlike people with Type 1 diabetes, people with Type 2 diabetes produce insulin. However, the insulin their pancreas secretes is either not enough or the body is unable to recognize the insulin and use it properly. When there isn’t enough insulin or the insulin is not used as it should be, glucose can’t get into the body’s cells. The body becomes resistant to insulin and sugar builds up in the blood. Symptoms may be similar to those of type 1 diabetes, but are often less marked. As a result, the disease may be diagnosed several years after onset, once complications have already arisen.
It occurs when your blood sugar is higher than normal, but it’s not high enough for a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes.
It is high blood sugar during pregnancy. Insulin hormones produced by the placenta cause this type of diabetes. Screening for gestational diabetes is performed during pregnancy. Left untreated, gestational diabetes increases the risk of complications to both the mother and her unborn child. Usually, blood glucose levels return to normal within six weeks of childbirth. However, women who have had gestational diabetes have an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes later-in-life.
Different causes are associated with each type of diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes
Doctors don’t know exactly what causes type 1 diabetes. For some reason, the immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas. Genes may play a role in some people. It’s also possible that a virus sets off the immune system attack.
Type 2 diabetes
Type 2 diabetes stems from a combination of genetics and lifestyle factors. Being overweight or obese increases your risk too. Carrying extra weight, especially in your belly, makes your cells more resistant to the effects of insulin on your blood sugar. This condition runs in families. Family members share genes that make them more likely to get type 2 diabetes and to be overweight.
Gestational diabetes is the result of hormonal changes during pregnancy. The placenta produces hormones that make a pregnant woman’s cells less sensitive to the effects of insulin. This can cause high blood sugar during pregnancy. Women who are overweight when they get pregnant or who gain too much weight during their pregnancy are more likely to get gestational diabetes.
At the present time, diabetes can’t be cured, but it can be treated and controlled. The goals of managing diabetes are to:
Keep your blood glucose levels as near to normal as possible by balancing food intake with medication and activity.
Maintain your blood cholesterol and triglyceride (lipid) levels as near their normal ranges as possible by decreasing the total amount of fat to 30% or less of your total daily calories and by reducing saturated fat and cholesterol.
Control your blood pressure. Your blood pressure should not go over 130/80.
Slow or possibly prevent the development of diabetes-related health problems.
You hold the key to managing your diabetes by:
- Planning what you eat and following a balanced meal plan.
- Exercising regularly.
- Taking medicine, if prescribed, and closely following the guidelines on how and when to take it.
- Monitoring your blood glucose and blood pressure levels at home.
- Keeping your appointments with your health care providers and having laboratory tests as ordered by your doctor.
Treatment of diabetes involves diet and physical activity along with lowering blood glucose and the levels of other known risk factors that damage blood vessels. Tobacco use cessation is also important to avoid complications.
Interventions that are both cost-saving and feasible in developing countries include:
blood glucose control, particularly in type 1 diabetes.
People with type 1 diabetes require insulin, people with type 2 diabetes can be treated with oral medication, but may also require insulin; blood pressure control; and foot care.
Other cost saving interventions include:
Screening and treatment for retinopathy (which causes blindness).
Blood lipid control (to regulate cholesterol levels).
screening for early signs of diabetes-related kidney disease and treatment.