Understanding diabetes mellitus
Diabetes mellitus is a disease that attacks a person's pancreas and results in high blood sugar, which can be extremely dangerous to overall health and may even lead to death. Diabetes is caused by the pancreas malfunctioning—it either does not produce enough insulin, which regulates glucose in the blood, or the body's cells do not respond properly to insulin being produced, leading to an imbalance of sugar in the blood.
If body cells cannot absorb glucose, complications such as vascular and nerve conditions can arise, causing poor circulation and even death. However, diabetes is a fairly well-understood disease, and information about diabetes is available to help you learn more about your condition in order to keep it under control.
What is diabetes?
There are three types of diabetes: type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes and gestational diabetes. All have different risk factors and levels of severity. Type 1 diabetes is mostly seen in children (juvenile diabetes), but can also be seen in adults. It comprises 10 percent of cases and affects people who are otherwise healthy and of a normal weight. Type 1 can be very insulin-resistant and may require several different types of therapies, including insulin injection and strict diet control, to successfully regulate it.
Type 2 diabetes tends to affect people who are overweight and lead a sedentary lifestyle. Over 55 percent of type 2 diabetics fit these criteria. However, Type 2 can also affect people with pre-existing conditions, such as hypertension or cancer, especially if they take certain kinds of medication. Type 2 diabetics often have a history of diabetes in their family. Type 2 is very strongly genetically linked.
Gestational diabetes occurs during pregnancy. It occurs in about 2 to 5 percent of pregnancies and may or may not improve once the woman has delivered. Some gestational diabetics find themselves with type 2 diabetes even after delivery; however, this is not the norm.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms of diabetes include excessive thirst, sometimes for ice or ice water (diabetes insipidus), increased hunger and excessive urination, often throughout the day and night. Unexplained weight loss, fatigue and a general feeling of malaise may also occur. In cases of type 1 diabetes, the patient may also experience blurred vision. However, some type 2 patients may not experience any symptoms at all.
Diabetes information is available from your doctor and from the diabetic foundations in your area. Diabetes can be controlled, and diabetics can lead a normal life. Talk to your doctor about therapies that may work for your specific case of diabetes. Sometimes, diet and exercise can make a big difference in how you feel and how your body responds to insulin therapies.