Diabetes mellitus refers to a group of diseases that affect how your body uses blood sugar (glucose). Glucose is vital to your health because it’s an important source of energy for the cells that make up your muscles and tissues. It’s also your brain’s main source of fuel.
People with diabetes mellitus are unable to produce enough of the hormone insulin which is a compound that regulates the glucose level in the blood, the failure in insulin production in diabetic’s leads to a high blood sugar -glucose level in the body.
This may not sound like much but an excess sugar or glucose content has serious complications and over time, such high levels of glucose in the blood can lead to the appearance of heart disease or it at least increases the risks, and nerve damage, it heightens the possibility of kidney disease, there could be a loss of vision, and high blood sugar brings many other complications in its stride including wounds that do not heal well and quickly enough.
Diabetes is of two distinct types. The rare diabetes insipidus, or more commonly insulin-dependent diabetes or type 1 diabetes, which can develop at any age but usually develops before the age of 30. The second type of diabetes is called as diabetes mellitus, or more commonly non-insulin-dependent diabetes or type 2 diabetes; this form of the disorder accounts for 90% of diabetic cases; and it makes its appearance usually in middle age.
When the pancreas ceases its function of insulin production due to any reason, type 1 diabetes is said to have occurred, as insulin is necessary for glucose regulation in the blood. While the causes of this abrupt halt in the production of insulin is uncertain, it is believed by many scientists and researchers that an autoimmune disorder, where the body attacks its own pancreatic cells could be responsible, while others suggest the involvement of a virus. Thus those individuals who have unfortunately contracted diabetes type 1, a lifelong insulin dependency from an external source is necessitated, therefore such people are dependant on insulin throughout their lives.
On the other hand, diabetes mellitus or the more common type 2 diabetes develops from insulin resistance in the body. Pancreatic function is normal, and insulin is produced in sufficient quantities, but for some reason the cells in the body cannot use the insulin anymore. The presence or absence of a lot of body fat or obesity in people plays an important role in most cases of type 2 diabetes. Indeed obesity is one of the risk factors for contracting this form of diabetes. In the end, both these types of diabetes can arise in anybody due to genetic factors.
Diabetes symptoms vary depending on how much your blood sugar is elevated. Some people, especially those with prediabetes or type 2 diabetes, may not experience symptoms initially. In type 1 diabetes, symptoms tend to come on quickly and be more severe.
Some of the signs and symptoms of type 1 and type 2 diabetes are:
- Increased thirst
- Frequent urination
- Extreme hunger
- Unexplained weight loss
- Presence of ketones in the urine (ketones are a byproduct of the breakdown of muscle and fat that happens when there’s not enough available insulin)
- Blurred vision
- Slow-healing sores
- Frequent infections, such as gums or skin infections and vaginal infections
Long-term complications of diabetes develop gradually. The longer you have diabetes — and the less controlled your blood sugar — the higher the risk of complications. Eventually, diabetes complications may be disabling or even life-threatening. Possible complications include:
- Cardiovascular disease. Diabetes dramatically increases the risk of various cardiovascular problems, including coronary artery disease with chest pain (angina), heart attack, stroke and narrowing of arteries (atherosclerosis). If you have diabetes, you’re more likely to have heart disease or stroke.
- Nerve damage (neuropathy). Excess sugar can injure the walls of the tiny blood vessels (capillaries) that nourish your nerves, especially in your legs. This can cause tingling, numbness, burning or pain that usually begins at the tips of the toes or fingers and gradually spreads upward.
Left untreated, you could lose all sense of feeling in the affected limbs. Damage to the nerves related to digestion can cause problems with nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or constipation. For men, it may lead to erectile dysfunction.
- Kidney damage (nephropathy). The kidneys contain millions of tiny blood vessel clusters (glomeruli) that filter waste from your blood. Diabetes can damage this delicate filtering system. Severe damage can lead to kidney failure or irreversible end-stage kidney disease, which may require dialysis or a kidney transplant.
- Eye damage (retinopathy). Diabetes can damage the blood vessels of the retina (diabetic retinopathy), potentially leading to blindness. Diabetes also increases the risk of other serious vision conditions, such as cataracts and glaucoma.
- Foot damage. Nerve damage in the feet or poor blood flow to the feet increases the risk of various foot complications. Left untreated, cuts and blisters can develop serious infections, which often heal poorly. These infections may ultimately require toe, foot or leg amputation.
- Skin conditions. Diabetes may leave you more susceptible to skin problems, including bacterial and fungal infections.
- Hearing impairment. Hearing problems are more common in people with diabetes.
- Alzheimer’s disease. Type 2 diabetes may increase the risk of dementia, such as Alzheimer’s disease. The poorer your blood sugar control, the greater the risk appears to be. Although there are theories as to how these disorders might be connected, none has yet been proved.
- Depression. Depression symptoms are common in people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Depression can affect diabetes management.