What is Diabetes Mellitus?- Types, Symptoms, Cause, and Treatment

The changes in the lifestyle and food habits of the people have led to an increase in some diseases across the globe. Obesity associated with wrong eating habits is one of the biggest examples of life style diseases.
Diabetes Mellitus puts a significant cost burden on the health care. It is the seventh biggest cause of deaths in US alone.
As per American diabetes association, there were around 30 mn people suffering from diabetes in the US alone while there are around 150 mn people suffering from diabetes in the world. There are around 1.5 mn new cases diagnosed for diabetes in US.

Diabetes Mellitus Types

Diabetes Mellitus is a metabolic disorder in which the person suffering has high blood glucose. The reasons could be multiple:
• Insufficient Insulin cells
• Unresponsiveness to Insulin
• Both

Diabetes Mellitus is characterized into various subtypes:

• Type 1 diabetes:

Body is not able to produce insulin also called as insulin-dependent diabetes. Usually, people get infected with Type 1 diabetes in the early ages. Type 1 diabetes is less prevalent, only 10% of the total cases of diabetes are Type 1 diabetes. The cure for this would require insulin injections. Cure also includes management of insulin and blood glucose levels in the body.

• Type 2 diabetes:

Insulin produced is insufficient with regard to body’s requirement or the body cells don’t respond adequately to insulin called as insulin resistance. Around 90% of the total diabetes cases are Type 2 diabetes. Over-weight and obese people have a higher tendency to develop type 2 diabetes. The disease is regarded as a progressive disease and generally, it worsens with the age.

However, many people tend to control diabetes with lifestyle changes like eating proper food, proper exercise, monitoring their blood glucose levels etc.

• Gestational diabetes:

This type of diabetes usually affects women during pregnancy. Many women tend to produce high levels of blood glucose during pregnancy. As a result, the body has insufficient insulin level to metabolize the higher blood glucose. Gestational diabetes if not controlled properly using a controlled diet, exercise and medicines can cause difficulty in childbirth.

Symptoms of Diabetes Mellitus

• Polydipsia, Polyphagia, lethargy etc.
• Blurred vision, weight loss
• Acetone smell from the mouth
• Nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain
• Polyuria

Diabetes Mellitus causes:

Diabetes is a metabolic disorder which affects the metabolism of the food that we intake. The food that we eat is broken down into glucose and energy. This glucose is ultimately absorbed into the body cells with the help of insulin.
Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas which helps in the breakdown of glucose and release of energy required for body cells.
In case of Diabetes Mellitus, the body is not able to produce sufficient quantity of insulin or the insulin present in the body is not able to break down glucose. As a result, people suffering from diabetes have a high level of glucose in the blood which is called as hyperglycemia. The excess of the glucose in the body also gets passed into the urine.
As a result of improper utilization or absorption of glucose in the body, the cells in the body are not able to grow and function properly.

Various causes of diabetes include:

• Genetics: a person has high chances of getting diabetes in case there is a family history of diabetes.
• Overweight: Obesity is closely related to diabetes. A person having more than 20% higher weight than normal has a higher chance of developing diabetes.
• A surgery in the past or some illness might also lead to diabetes
• Use of certain medications for a longer duration has also been related to diabetes symptoms. Some of the medications associated with diabetes are steroid and medicines to control blood pressure.
• Pancreatic injury: Any injury to pancreas might affect its ability to excrete hormones or affect its functioning in general. Injury to the liver might be caused because of various reasons like:
o Tumor in the pancreas
o A tumor surgery
o Pancreas infection
o Or an injury due to some accident
Autoimmune disease: An autoimmune disorder can also result in diabetes symptoms
High blood pressure or abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels could also result in Diabetes mellitus
Age: Age is also regarded as one of the cause influencing diabetes mellitus. While Type 1 occurs at a young age mostly in infants and adults while Type 2 diabetes is prevalent in older people (40+)
Alcohol consumption: Alcohol consumption also increases the chances of diabetes mellitus. It is normally associated with prolonged alcoholism and heavy alcohol consumption.
Smoking: Smoking is also associated with diabetes mellitus
Pregnancy or a history of diabetes to the mother during pregnancy can also lead to diabetes mellitus at a later stage.

Diagnosis of Diabetes Mellitus:

Blood test is performed to check the blood glucose level of the person. Blood glucose levels of the person help to tell if the diabetes is at starting stage, middle stage or a higher stage diabetes.

Different tests are performed to diagnose diabetes mellitus and all of them have different criteria:

1. Fasting blood glucose test:

A fasting glucose test is performed before the breakfast usually a gap of 8-10 hrs of food intake.
o Blood glucose sugar level of less than 100 is normal
o Blood glucose sugar level of 100-125 is regarded as prediabetes or early signs of diabetes
o Blood glucose level of greater than 126 is regarded as Diabetes

2. Random Glucose test:

This is performed anytime during the day. Usually at least an hour after taking food. Criteria used for random glucose test are:
o Blood glucose sugar level of less than 140 is normal
o Blood glucose sugar level of 140-199 is regarded as prediabetes or early signs of diabetes
o Blood glucose level of greater than 200 is regarded as Diabetes

3. A1C test:

A1C is another method used for diagnosing diabetes mellitus. The A1C test uses a method as per National Glycohemoglobin Standardization program and has following guidelines for A1C test:
o Blood glucose level of less than 5.7% is characterized as normal
o Blood glucose levels between 5.7% and 6.4% are characterized as early signs of diabetes
o Blood glucose level greater than 6.5% is characterized as diabetes

Diabetes Mellitus got its name because of the symptoms it is associated with like polyuria which is passing of excess urine and high level of glucose in the blood which gave it the name of mellitus

Treatment of Diabetes Mellitus:

There is no cure of diabetes whether type 1 or type 2, however, the treatment of diabetes requires the control on blood glucose levels which includes –
• Taking medications for diabetes
• Control of diabetes natural methods:

1. Exercise

2.  Diet control

3. Body weight control

4. Home Remedies

5. Avoiding high sugar food.

The diabetes management is different for type 1 and type 2 diabetes:

Type 1 diabetes: The cure of diabetes Type 1 requires injectable insulin, control on diet and exercise
Type 2 diabetes: This mostly treated and cured using oral tablets, exercise, and a well-controlled diet. Occasionally, this would require insulin injections.

There are various other ways of managing diabetes which include:

1. Maintaining the levels of blood cholesterol and triglycerides levels in the body by modifying the diet, this is done by using less of saturated fat and calorie intake in the body. Reducing body fat and keeping a check over it is also important in controlling cholesterol and triglyceride levels
2. Blood pressure should also be kept in check which means that the blood pressure should be kept below 130/80
3. One should also keep in check diabetes-related disease and symptoms.
4. One should also follow the diet plan as instructed which also includes taking diet on time and keeping a gap of certain numbers of hours between two consecutive diets.
5. Medication: One should also take medications as described by the medical practitioner. One should take the medicines on time without fail and should regularly discuss the changes or side effects occurring with the doctor and not do any self-medication
6. Monitor blood glucose and blood pressure levels at home- one should regularly check the levels of glucose and blood pressure at home and check for any abrupt change
7. Doctor’s appointment and lab tests: One should regularly undergo a monthly checkup and undergo medical tests as directed by the physician. One should also discuss the report and the results with the medical practitioner

Complications associated with diabetes mellitus:

There are many complications associated with diabetes which include –

Retinopathy: A person having diabetes should regularly visit ophthalmologists well. Diabetes can also lead to the effect on the vision of the person e.g. a blurred vision.
Nephropathy: Diabetes is also associated with kidney diseases. A high blood pressure continuously can lead to an increased pressure on the kidneys and have greater chances of developing kidney diseases. Also, people having swelling in legs and feet are also regarded as suffering from Diabetes and should discuss the symptoms with the doctor.
Neuropathy or a nerve disease: any numbness or tingling sensation in the hands or feet should be discussed with the doctor. You should also check for cracking of the skin, swelling, and breakdown of the skin tissues or redness in the skin immediately with the doctor.

Some of the other complications of diabetes include:
• Eye problems like cataract, glaucoma etc.
• High blood pressure
• Dental problems
• Heart diseases etc.
Diabetes Mellitus is a disease that requires an early diagnosis to prevent the harmful effects and to prevent the associated disorders related to diabetes.
Diet control and changes in lifestyle can greatly help in keeping diabetes in control. There are a lot of food which keep your sugar level under control.

Sagar Papneja

For me, health is about sustainable living and consuming environmentally conscious food; I am a vegan.

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