What Is Diabetes Mellitus

Many people know that sugar and diabetes go hand in hand, but that is about the extent of most folks knowledge of the disease. With a healthy person, the body needs glucose in order to function properly, but sometimes it is unable to process the amount of sugar it receives from our diets. When the body is unable to process sugar efficiently, the person develops diabetes. Recognizing the symptoms of the disease at its earliest onset will help in effecting the necessary treatment.

Statistics released by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention indicate that the prevalence of diabetes in the US population is expected to increase by at least twelve percent by 2050. This figure becomes daunting when you realize that this represents an estimated 48 million people. However, you do not need to be a part of this statistic if you start eating right and exercising.

There are three types of diabetes mellitus:

  • Type 1 Diabetes
  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Gestational diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is the type of diabetes where the body is unable to produce any of the insulin it needs to function. Type 1 is an autoimmune disease; that is, the body is turning on itself. With Type 1 diabetes, it does this by destroying the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin. Once these cells are destroyed, the body can no longer produce insulin. Persons with Type 1 diabetes have to take insulin daily for the rest of their lives. Type 1 diabetes used to be known as juvenile diabetes because it is found most frequently in children and young adults.

Type 2 Diabetes

This was formerly referred to as adult-onset diabetes, but even children can have type 2 diabetes.  With this type of diabetes, the body produces some insulin, but not as much as it needs to regulate sugar levels.

Gestational Diabetes

This type of diabetes only affects pregnant women, hence, the name. It normally occurs late in a pregnancy and results from the hormonal changes taking place.

Risk factors for Diabetes

One of the risk factors for type 2 diabetes is being overweight. Overweight people can delay the onset of the disease or even prevent it by losing weight.  For women, having gestational diabetes is a risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes. People over the age of forty-five should be tested for diabetes annually.

Symptoms of Diabetes

The main signs of diabetes include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Increased thirst and hunger
  • Increasing need to urinate and increased quantity of urine produced
  • Blurry vision
  • Minor cuts and scratches take longer to heal than usual
  • Losing weight without any apparent reason
  • Being constantly tired

Treatment of Diabetes

  • Typical treatment for diabetes includes:
  • Medication which is primarily Insulin
  • Controlling and lowering your blood pressure
  • Lowering your LDL cholesterol levels
  • Exercising
  • Losing weight

Changing lifestyle habits can be hard, but it is necessary if you get a diagnosis of diabetes. Being told that you have diabetes does not mean that your life is over, so take heart. What it means is that you must now pay attention to what you eat and increase your level of physical activity.

Page Updated: November 23, 2017
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