What is Diabetes Mellitus and is it manageable?
Diabetes mellitus belongs to a group of insulin related illnesses that is typically referred to as diabetes. This disease develops due to insufficient production of insulin as a result of pancreatic exocrine dysfunction or incorrect use of the insulin that is produced. In a healthy body, insulin works with blood glucose to produce energy. A breakdown in this mechanism of action create the diabetes mellitus condition that is often recognized by high blood sugar. People with recurrent and persistent high glucose levels is recognized as having diabetes mellitus. The particular type of DM must be identified through appropriate tests.
Types of Diabetes Mellitus
The following metabolic disease are recognized by the medical community as conditions of diabetes mellitus (DM)
- Type 1 DM occurs primarily due to insufficient production of insulin by the pancreas. People with this type of diabetes are considered to be insulin dependent. The term “Juvenile Diabetes” also refers to Type 1 diabetes mellitus.
- Type 2 DM occurs when cells in the body become unresponsive or resistant to the insulin that is being produced by the pancreatic endocrine system. This malfunction causes a condition known as “insulin resistance” or the decreased ability of certain cells in the body to absorb insulin. Without sufficient absorption of insulin by the muscles, fat and liver cells the pancreas increases insulin production to compensate for this deficiency. With the inability to properly absorb insulin, the increased insulin accumulates in the blood stream and, if left unchecked, can lead to a prediabetic condition or type 2 diabetes mellitus.
- Gestational DM is a form of diabetes that occurs during pregnancy in some women. This can occur even if there is no genetic affiliation to diabetes or with any previous occurrence of high blood glucose levels.
- Latent autoimmune diabetes of adults (LADA) is an age-related occurrence of type 1 diabetes mellitus.
- Type 3 DM is the term being coined for an Alzheimer’s related form of diabetes. Studies indicate that the underlying processes of the Alzheimer’s condition may also involve insulin resistance by the brain.
The following represent a number of risk factors that can increase an individual’s chance of developing diabetes:
- Genetic predisposition or family history
- Ethnic background
- Excess weight of 20% or more
- Physical stress on the body from chronic illness or surgery
- Persistent consumption of certain medications
- Pancreatic injury
- Autoimmune disease
- High blood pressure
- Frequent abnormal blood cholesterol or triglyceride levels
- Alcoholism or heavy and consistent consumption of alcohol
Signs and Symptoms
The signs of a prediabetic condition or Type 2 diabetes mellitus may not always be apparent. However, because all DM condition are linked to various conditions that can be life-threatening, it is important recognize symptoms that could indicate a prediabetic condition or full-blown diabetes mellitus.
- Increased feelings of fatigue
- The need to eat more often
- Frequently thirsty
- Frequent urination
- Impaired vision
- Unexplained weight loss
- Slow healing of abrasions
- Itching in the genital area
- Recurrent yeast infections
- Dry Mouth
If are experiencing one or more of the preceding symptoms, it is important to talk to your doctor about you risk factors for diabetes mellitus and being tested.
Method of Diagnosis
Diabetes Mellitus can be diagnosed by
- A fasting plasma glucose test (FPG) which measures blood glucose level after not eating for 10 to 12 hours.
- The A1C test that measures average percentage of glycated hemoglobin, or HbA1c.
The occurrence of a diabetes mellitus condition in the body increases the risk of various other medical complications such as:
- cardiovascular disease. Studies show coronary artery disease occurs in an estimated 75% of people with diabetes. Other macrovascular diseases include stroke, and peripheral vascular disease.
- Diabetes damage to small blood vessels can lead to diabetic retinopathy, gradual vision loss and blindness.
- Diabetic nephropathy or kidney damage can cause tissue scarring, urine protein loss, and chronic kidney disease.
- Diabetic neuropathy is the most common complication of diabetes that cause damage to the nerves of the body. This condition result in altered pain sensations and damage to the skin.
- Diabetic foot ulcers, in some instances, lead to the need for amputation.
- Proximal diabetic neuropathy is a condition that result in painful muscle weakness and degeneration.
- Cognitive deficit or decline increases significantly in people with diabetes mellitus.
Treatment and Management
The first step in addressing diabetes mellitus, is getting tested to determine the type and treatment requirements. The ultimate goal for someone with this condition is to maintain blood pressure, blood glucose, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels as close to normal as possible. The primary recommendations for preventing the exacerbation of diabetes mellitus and the accompanying complications is by:
- Establishing and sticking to a diabetes friendly diet that is balanced and nutritionally dense.
- Avoid going long periods without food.
- Engaging in regular physical exercise
- Weight control
- Close monitoring of blood glucose and blood pressure levels
- Taking any required medication
- Getting laboratory test when instructed by the primary care physician.
- Working in concert with health care providers for health status feedback
- Maintaining a healthy sleep pattern
- Developing mechanisms for stress avoidance