What is Diabetes Mellitus: Causes, Symptoms, And Treatment
Diabetes. The very name evokes dread in the hearts of so many people.
It is one of the most malignant ailments known to man, a disease without a foreseeable cure in sight.
It is a stubborn condition, often resilient to standard medicine and very expensive to treat.
Once a person comes down with diabetes, it is almost certainly concluded that the battle is over.
That may be far from the truth, though.
Indeed, some myths have built up over the years concerning diabetes – whether or not it is curable, and the actual cause of it is still being debated in some circles.
What Is Diabetes Mellitus?
Diabetes (also known as diabetes mellitus) is a metabolic disorder that arises from the body’s inability to produce adequate insulin.
Most of what we eat is broken down into glucose, which is converted into energy by the insulin.
Insulin is a hormone made by the pancreas, which allows our body to use sugar (glucose) from carbohydrates in our diet.
Insulin thus is necessary in keeping our blood sugar level within normal limit.
A person with diabetes has a condition in which the quantity of glucose in the blood is too elevated (hyperglycemia).
This is because the body either does not produce enough insulin, produces no insulin, or has cells that do not respond properly to the insulin the pancreas is manufacturing.
For people with diabetes, the glucose stays in the blood instead of being turned into energy.
The excess blood glucose is eventually passed out of the body in urine.
So, even though the blood has plenty of glucose, the cells are not getting it for their essential energy and growth requirements.
Primary Causes Of Diabetes
Of course, sugar considered the number one cause of diabetes.
So it goes to reason that sugar is considered inimical to wellness.
That is not entirely true, because sugar is by far more beneficial to our health than we care to give it credit for.
Although studies do show that sweetened foods can increase the risk of diabetes, truth of the matter is that sugar alone isn’t really enough to cause the disease in our body.
So if not sugar, what else, then?
The sugars in food are known as simple carbohydrates and are natural components of most of the foods we eat.
A healthy diet should contain some natural sugars that is required by the body.
But the problem with sugar is the sheer amount of it that’s contained in most sweetened drinks, sodas and junk foods.
A high-sugar diet can certainly increase diabetes risk.
However, excess calories that come from both carbohydrates and fats can also contribute to the development of diabetes by leading to overweight or obesity.
In other words, consumption of too much fat can have the same effect as sugar on your diabetes risk.
Other factors that could trigger diabetes include obesity, excess weight, and a family history of diabetes.
People who exercise fewer than three times a week, and women who’ve been diagnosed with gestational diabetes also have an increased chance of developing Type 2 diabetes.
So while it’s fine to consider what you eat, keep at the back of your mind that not every case of diabetes is diet-related.
For instance, Type 1 diabetes occurs when the body’s immune system attacks its own pancreas, thereby limiting the organ’s ability to produce insulin.
In type 2 diabetes, the cells in the body fail to respond well to insulin.
When this happens, blood sugar levels remain higher than normal.
So essentially, while you may not need to overly avoid any food group for fear of diabetes, you do need to monitor your intake of sugar and sugar substitutes for your overall health.
Types Of Diabetes
There are three types of diabetes:
Type 1 Diabetes:
This is the type of diabetes where the body does not produce insulin for conversion of glucose into energy.
It is less popular than the other types of diabetes. Approximately 10% of all diabetes cases are Type 1.
Although people usually develop this type of diabetes before the age of 40, sufferers will need to take insulin injections for the rest of their life.
This is because, as has been stated, Type 1 diabetes is mainly insulin deficiency.
Typically, glucose level in blood can be kept under control by losing weight, following a healthy diet, regular exercise, and monitoring their blood glucose levels periodically.
Type 2 Diabetes:
In this type of case, the body does not produce enough insulin for proper metabolic function, or the cells within the body have gotten resistant to insulin.
This is the most common type of diabetes. Approximately 90% of all diabetes cases worldwide are Type 2.
Overweight and obese people are more prone to Type 2 diabetes, compared to those with a healthy body weight.
People with a lot of visceral fat, also known as central obesity, belly fat, or abdominal obesity, are especially at risk.
As we get older, it is also pertinent that we limit the consumption of sweetened drinks, like soda.
Older people stand more risk of having diabetes.
Just drinking one can of soda a day will increase our risk of developing type 2 diabetes by as much as 22%.
This is because, according to research, the impact of sugary soft drinks on diabetes risk is a direct one.
As people age, they naturally tend to add weight and become less active physically.
This is a precursor to diabetes, and a good reason why the elderly must try to still maintain a healthy lifestyle be exercising and eating healthy.
This type of diabetes, as the name would suggest, affects females during pregnancy.
Some women have very high levels of glucose in their blood, and their bodies are unable to produce enough insulin to transport all of the glucose into their cells, resulting in rising levels of glucose when they’re pregnant.
Gestational diabetes can be controlled with exercise and diet.
But undiagnosed or uncontrolled gestational diabetes can raise the risk of complications during childbirth.
What Are The Common Symptoms?
Most early symptoms are from higher-than-normal levels of glucose.
The warning signs that you could have diabetes can be so mild that you won’t notice them at first. In fact, some people don’t find out they have it until they begin to get complications as a result of the disease.
But if you pay attention and listen to your body, there are always tell-tale signs that something might be going on in your system.
Below are some of the signs that might herald diabetes:
Rapid Hunger and fatigue:
Your body converts the food you eat into glucose that your cells use for energy.
If your body doesn’t make enough or any insulin, or if your cells resist the insulin your body makes, the glucose can’t get into them and you have no energy.
This can make you more hungry and tired than usual.
If you find that you have to go to the bathroom every hour, or twice an hour, particular at night, heads up!
There might be something wrong.
The average person should normally urinate between four and seven times a day. People suffering from diabetes often have to pee twice as many times.
This happens because when there is diabetes in a person, excess glucose that should have been absorbed by the cells and used up as energy, remains in the blood.
This causes the body to make more urine, and that takes fluids. So you’ll have to pee. .
Dry mouth and itchy skin:
Your body is now making use of more fluids as you urinate, so there’s progressive loss of moisture in your system.
If you don’t replenish the fluid as you pass them out, you will find that you begin to get dehydrated.
This will result in dry mouth and itchy, scaly skin.
Diabetes can also affect your vision as it progresses.
This is because changing fluid levels in your body could swell the lenses in your eyes, causing them to lose ability to focus
Many people are familiar with this nasty symptom of diabetes, especially those who has treated diabetes or have relative who have suffered the disease in the past.
Over time, high blood sugar can affect your blood flow and cause damages to sensitive nerves that make it hard for your body to heal when you sustained an injury.
If your body can’t get energy from your food, it will start burning muscle and fat for energy instead.
This will normally result in rapid weight loss.
You can read this as well: Secrets of Maintaining Healthy Bones: The Ultimate Guide
Treatment Of Diabetes
All types of diabetes cab be treated and managed. But Type 1 diabetes has no known cure presently, and usually lasts a lifetime.
Type 2 will usually last a lifetime as well.
However, through a combination of exercise, diet and maintaining a healthy body weight, it can be kept under control.
Patients with Type 1 are treated with regular insulin injections, as well as a special diet and exercise.
Patients with Type 2 diabetes are usually treated with tablets, exercise and a special diet.
Insulin injections may also be required in progressive cases.
If diabetes is not adequately controlled the patient has a significantly higher risk of developing complications.
How Prevalent Is The Disease?
According to the World Health Organization, the number of diabetes cases globally has quadrupled since the 1980s.
This has been attributed to poor diet and a lack of exercise, underscoring the utmost importance of people to maintain healthy lifestyle.
While the rate of diabetes is relatively low in Africa, the number of people living with diabetes has jumped from around 4 million in 1980 to over 25 million in 2014.
This is because more people are taking to unhealthy lifestyles and neglecting routine exercises and workouts.
Since diabetes is largely a lifestyle disease, an increase in the disease could be an indication that more and more people are eating processed and unwholesome foods.
The disease claims hundreds of lives daily across Africa, thousands globally.
This is so, because most of those who need regular insulin treatment are unable to afford the high cost of insulin.
Did you know that today, diabetes claims more lives than AIDS and breast cancer combined?
Worldwide, diabetes afflicts more than 380 million people, and it’s about to get worse.
According to WHO, by 2030 that figures though disheartening, would have more than doubled.
But living with diabetes presents a grave challenge.
It places an enormous amount of demand on the entire family, not just on the sufferer.
It drains emotions and saps resources and could leave everyone feeling frustrated.
So expectedly, the disease is dreaded. Many try to do all they can to avoid it.
This includes going out of their ways to avoid certain food and drinks that have been linked to diabetes over the ages.
Who Can Get Diabetic?
Just about anyone. That includes you. Based on a number of factors, like diet, lifestyle, body size and gender, plus of course our genetic makeup, just about anyone can get diabetes.
Although diabetes poses a grave threat to the modern age, with its rising cases among most of the world’s population, the disease is not extraordinary.
Indeed, it can be contained. If people were to begin paying more attention to their health and lifestyle, what they eat and drink, embark on regular exercise and periodic visits to their physician to check their blood sugar levels, diabetes would be kept at bay.
Keep reading: 15 Incredible Home Remedies for Tuberculosis