Diabetes Mellitus Definition
Diabetes Mellitus, more commonly recognized as Diabetes is a chronic metabolic condition characterized by elevated blood sugar (blood glucose) levels. Diabetes Mellitus by definition prevents the body from properly using the energy from the food ingested. It contributes to extensive damage to the heart, blood vessels, eyes, kidneys and nerves over time.
Diabetes occurs due to one of the two different cases:
- The pancreas secretes inadequate or no insulin at all.
- The pancreas secretes insulin however the insulin doesn’t work as it’s supposed to. Usually happens when the cells don’t respond well to the action of Insulin. This condition is called Insulin Resistance.
Insulin is a naturally occurring hormone secreted by the pancreas and it helps the body use sugar for energy.
To understand more than the definition of Diabetes Mellitus, it is essential to learn more about a process called metabolism i.e. how the body uses food for energy.
Millions of cells make up the human body. In order to produce energy, cells require food in a very basic form. Most of the food is broken down into a simple sugar called glucose while eating or drinking. For everyday activities, glucose provides the energy our body needs. The blood vessels and blood are the pathways that carry sugar to the cells where it is either taken in / manufactured/ to the cells where it is used/where it is stored. Sugar itself is not able to go into the cells. The pancreas releases insulin into the blood, which acts as the helper, or the “key,” which enables sugar to be used as energy in the cells.
The blood sugar level is reduced as sugar exits the bloodstream and reaches the cells.
Sugar does not get into the body’s cell for use as energy without insulin, or the “key,”
This triggers an increase in sugar level. This condition is called “hyperglycemia” ( high blood sugar ).
To completely understand beyond the definition of diabetes mellitus, it’s necessary to learn the different types of diabetes.
Types of diabetes mellitus:
- Type 1 diabetes
- Type 2 diabetes
- Gestational diabetes
Now, let’s look at the types of diabetes mellitus in detail
- Type 1 Diabetes:
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease, also known as juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes. It occurs when the pancreatic insulin-producing cells (beta cells) are damaged. In Type 1 diabetes, the pancreas secretes inadequate or no insulin at all, therefore sugar couldn’t be used as energy in the cells. The main cause for this is, the immune system targets and kills the pancreatic cells where insulin is produced. Children and young people are the ones commonly diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. In order to control their blood glucose, people with type 1 diabetes must use insulin injections. 10% of patients with Diabetes has type 1 condition.
- Type 2 Diabetes:
Type 2 Diabetes, also known as adult-onset diabetes is a chronic disorder that prohibits insulin from being processed by the body the way it should. This is a case of insulin resistance. Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes, 9 out of 10 people with diabetes are diagnosed with type 2. It is very common among middle-aged and old people, usually over 40 years old. However, there are instances where children are also diagnosed with type 2.
Prediabetes is a condition that refers to increased blood sugar levels than normal, but not high enough to be diagnosed as Diabetes. Usually, type 2 diabetes patients have prediabetes first.
- Gestational Diabetes:
Gestational Diabetes is diagnosed during the pregnancy (gestation) period of women. High blood sugar is caused by the Insulin-blocking hormones produced by the placenta. It may get resolved after the baby is delivered.
Causes of diabetes mellitus:
By definition, the exact causes of diabetes mellitus are still unknown. Usually, genetic, environmental factors cause diabetes. An unhealthy lifestyle is also another cause of diabetes. Additionally, there are risk factors that may increase the chances of getting diabetes. These are:
- High blood pressure
- Abnormal blood cholesterol or triglyceride levels.
- Usage of medications like steroids
The above risk factors are ones that we can have control over. However, there are ones that are not under our control. These are as follows:
Family history of diabetes (genetic factor)
- Belonging to the specific ethnic background that is more prone to diabetes
- Any injury or damage to the pancreas
- Old age
- Other autoimmune diseases
- Any other illness or physical condition
- Symptoms of diabetes mellitus:
The first step in identifying any condition or illness is through the symptoms. Hence, it’s vital for one to know the symptoms of a disease as common as diabetes. The symptoms include:
- Extreme hunger
- Increased thirst
- Unexplained weight loss
- Frequent urination
- Extreme fatigue
- Blurry vision
- Numbness or tingling in the feet or hands
- Very slow healing sores
The above symptoms of diabetes mellitus vary according to the type of diabetes diagnosed, duration of the disease and blood sugar levels. In addition to the general symptoms of diabetes, there are symptoms specific to men with diabetes these are: decreased sex drive, erectile dysfunction (ED), and poor muscle strength. Women with diabetes also have specific symptoms like urinary tract infections, yeast infections, and dry, itchy skin.
Complications of diabetes mellitus:
- Cardiovascular diseases:
People with diabetes are two times more likely than people without diabetes to develop heart disease or a stroke.
Nerve damage from diabetes is called diabetic neuropathy. About half of all diabetes patients have some form of nerve damage. The walls of the small blood vessels (capillaries) that nourish our nerves, particularly in our legs, may be injured by excess sugar. This may induce tingling, numbness, burning or discomfort that typically starts and eventually extends upward at the tips of the toes or fingers.
- Skin complications:
Diabetes patients are more susceptible to skin conditions, including bacterial and fungal infections.
- Retinopathy ( Eye complications ):
Diabetes Mellitus may damage the retina (diabetic retinopathy) blood vessels, potentially leading to blindness. The danger of other serious vision conditions, such as cataracts and glaucoma, is also increased by diabetes.
- Alzheimer’s disease:
Type 2 diabetes increases the risk of dementia
Depression is common among diabetes patients. It also affects diabetes management. This may even go beyond the definition of Diabetes Mellitus.
- Nephropathy ( Kidney problems ):
Diabetes can damage the delicate filtering system of collecting waste from the blood inside the kidneys. Severe damage leads to kidney failure or other end-stage kidney conditions.
- Foot damage
One of the most prevalent chronic illnesses in the world is Diabetes Mellitus. Around 422 million people globally have diabetes, the majority live in low- and middle-income countries, and 1.6 million deaths are directly due to diabetes last year, according to the WHO.
As we have elaborately learnt Diabetes Mellitus beyond definition, it is important for us to seek the right kind of medically proven approach in treating the same. In the last few decades, both the number of cases and the incidence of diabetes have been gradually growing. It is very important to undergo the right treatment for a common condition with so many associated complications like diabetes. One of the most important causes of diabetes is an unhealthy lifestyle, hence choosing the right nutrition plan is necessary. However, one plan doesn’t fit all, which brings us to the choice of personalized nutrition provided by Twin health. This plan helps you to maintain a healthy lifestyle overcoming diabetes and other health conditions.
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