Diabetes mellitus, more commonly referred to as Diabetes, belongs to a group of related diseases in which a person’s blood sugar level is higher than normal. This occurs either because the body cannot produce enough insulin, or the insulin being produced is not efficiently used by the body.
Glucose is used by the body to provide the energy which enables us to perform all of our regular bodily functions. It is manufactured by the liver and derived from the foods we eat, particularly: pasta, rice, potatoes, bread, milk and fruit.
The hormone insulin is produced by the pancreas and enables the cells of the liver, muscle and fatty tissue to extract the glucose from the blood and store it in the liver and muscles.
When the body does not produce enough insulin, or if the insulin does not function the way it’s meant to, the glucose remains in the blood instead of being absorbed by the cells. Your blood glucose level then becomes elevated resulting in pre-diabetes or diabetes.
TYPE 1 DIABETES (Insulin Dependent Diabetes, or Juvenile Diabetes)
Type 1 diabetes can be acquired at any age, often appearing in children, teenagers, or young adults. The exact cause of the disease has yet to be determined but it is believed that a virus or environmental toxins damage the pancreas or causes the body's immune system to attack the beta cells of the pancreas (autoimmune reaction).
Insulin-dependent diabetes is an apt way for describing this type of the disease, once the beta cells have been destroyed, the pancreas’s ability to produce insulin is limited or completely eliminated, making the afflicted completely reliant on insulin administered through artificial means.
It’s a lifelong disease and is neither preventable nor curable. Symptoms may develop rapidly within weeks or months.
- Decreased mental sharpness
- Being very thirsty and/or hungry
- Constant feelings of tiredness
- Loss of weight despite an increased appetite
- Dry, itchy skin
- Wounds which heal slowly
- Blurred vision (rapid onset)
- Urinating very often
- Rapid, deep breathing
- Fruity breath odor
Presently there are no known cures for this ailment. Once afflicted, the only available form of treatment is insulin shots, which in all likelihood must be taken indefinitely. Other suggested options for managing this disease are: to eat healthily and be physically active.
TYPE 2 DIABETES (Non-Insulin Dependent Diabetes, Adult Onset Diabetes)
Type 2 diabetes can appear at any age and unlike type 1 diabetes the body does produce insulin but the quantity produced is less than required or the liver, muscle and fat cells do not process insulin properly (Insulin resistance). The level of glucose, therefore, rises in the bloodstream. It is not being absorbed by the cells and no additional energy can be produced (hyperglycemia).
For the most part, it is believed that type 2 diabetes is due to genetics and lifestyle (diet, weight and lack of exercise). The symptoms of type 2 diabetes are not easily discernible if they do appear at all; the disease is often only diagnosed when it’s in an advanced stage.
- Tingling or loss of feeling in the feet
- Constant hunger and thirst
- Dry, itchy skin
- Cuts/sores which heal slowly
- Blurred vision (gradual onset)
- Urinating very often
- Frequent bladder and vaginal infections
- Erectile dysfunction
If diagnosed early it’s possible to reverse the effects of high blood sugar (hyperglycemia) through the use of medications which can improve one’s sensitivity to insulin or restricts the production of glucose by the liver. In the event that the disease is at a more advanced state, the treatment can then include insulin, pills, a proper diet (as recommended by a doctor or dietician), and physical activity. Additionally you’ll need to take personal responsibility for managing the disease by: managing your weight, controlling your cholesterol and blood pressure levels, checking and keeping your blood glucose level within the target range, quit smoking (if you do) and paying regular visits to your doctor, dentist, eye care specialist and podiatrist.
People who suffer from high blood pressure, overweight/obesity, have a poor diet and a sedentary lifestyle, stand a greater risk of contracting the disease Should you be diagnosed with diabetes, it is vital that it not be left untreated since it can lead to heart disease, kidney problems, nerve damage (possible amputation), blindness and erectile dysfunction among other serious illnesses.
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