mellitus often simply referred to as diabetes—is a condition
in which a person has a high blood sugar (glucose) level as a result
of the body either not producing enough insulin, or because body
cells do not properly respond to the insulin that is produced. Insulin
is a hormone produced in the pancreas which enables body cells to
absorb glucose, to turn into energy. If the body cells do not absorb
the glucose, the glucose accumulates in the blood (hyperglycemia),
leading to various potential medical complications.
are many types of diabetes, the most common of which are:
1 diabetes: results from the body's failure to produce insulin
and requires the person to inject insulin.
Type 2 diabetes: results from insulin resistance, a condition
in which cells fail to use insulin properly, sometimes combined
with an absolute insulin deficiency.
Gestational diabetes: is when pregnant women, who have never
had diabetes before, have a high blood glucose level during
and Risk Factors of Diabetes
cause of Type 1 diabetes is genetically based, coupled with an
abnormal immune response.
cause of Type 2 diabetes is unknown. Medical experts believe that
Type 2 diabetes has a genetic component, but other factors also
put people at risk for the disease. These factors include:
Obesity (weighing 20 percent above a healthy body weight).
Family history of diabetes.
Improper functioning of the pancreas.
(cortisone and some high blood pressure drugs).
Women having given birth to a baby weighing more than 9 lbs.
diagnosed gestational diabetes.
Previously diagnosed impaired glucose tolerance.
2 diabetes is determined primarily by lifestyle factors
and genes. These are:
People who smoke
People of certain races
Usually, the symptoms of Type 1 diabetes
are obvious. That is not true for Type 2. Many people with Type
2 do not discover they have diabetes until they are treated
for a complication such as heart disease, blood vessel disease
(atherosclerosis), stroke, blindness, skin ulcers, kidney problems,
nerve trouble or impotence.
of the signs of Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes are similar. In both,
there is too much glucose in the blood and not enough in the
cells of your body. High glucose levels in Type 1 are due to
a lack of insulin because the insulin producing cells have been
2 diabetes occurs when the body's cells become resistant to
insulin that is being produced. Either way, your cells aren’t
getting the glucose that they need, or your body lets you know
by giving you these signs and symptoms.
warning signs and symptoms are:
Unexplained weight loss.
Type I symptom, plus:
Unexplained weight gain.
Tingling or numbness in your feet.
Frequent vaginal or skin infections.
Dry, itchy skin.
Slow healing sores.
Note: If a person is experiencing these symptoms, they should
see a doctor immediately.
There is no foolproof way to prevent diabetes, but steps can
be taken to improve the chances of avoiding it. These steps
include exercise, weight loss, dietary control, avoiding alcochol
use and smoking.
of type 1 diabetes
while it is possible to prevent type 2 or adult onset diabetes
mellitus, we don't yet know of a way to prevent type 1 diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes mellitus is also known as juvenile onset or
insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM). It is an autoimmune
disease that damages cells in the pancreas so that they can
no longer make insulin.
Although type 1 diabetes is a genetic disorder, the way you
inherit diabetes is very complex. A person's risk of developing
type 1 diabetes is thought to be determined by several genes
and unknown environmental factors.
isn't possible to exactly predict who will get type 1 diabetes,
it is possible to do tests to see who is at higher risk. This
Testing for islet cell antibodies (ICA)
Genetic testing for type 1 diabetes
of type 2 diabetes
type 1 diabetes, it is usually possible to prevent type 2 diabetes
by eating healthy, maintaining a healthy body mass index and
promoting weight loss in overweight children.
Understand Insulin Resistance and Watch for the Signs.
The process of Type 2 diabetes begins years or even decades
before the diagnosis of diabetes, with insulin resistance. Understand
the signs to watch for so you can intervene early.
Get Regular Screening
If you are at risk for diabetes or insulin resistance, be sure
to get an annual fasting blood glucose test. If you see it rising
over time, even if still in the normal range, this is a sign
that your body is having more trouble processing sugar (all
carbohydrate breaks down into sugar).
You don't have to live your life at the gym to reap the benefits
of exercise. A brisk half hour walk 5 days per week can be enough
to help improve insulin sensitivity and prevent diabetes. Also,
just being generally more active can help a lot. To motivate
yourself, get a pedometer to count your steps and gradually
increase the number of steps you are taking.
Weight Control, With Reasonable Goals
A relatively small weight loss of 7% of body weight has been
shown to help prevent diabetes. Strive to stay at your own lowest
sustainable weight, even if that is above what the charts say
you should be. It is better to aim for a smaller weight loss
and be able to keep that weight off than aim for an unrealistically
low number, which could cause a "rebound" effect.
Although the American Diabetes Association continues to encourage
a high carbohydrate, low fat diet, this is apparently because
they don't think people can stick to a lower carbohydrate diet.
But think about it: if your body isn't processing sugar well,
doesn't it make sense to stop feeding it so much food that turns
into sugar? You can eat a healthy, balanced, diet that is lower
in carbohydrates. The amount of reduction that is optimal for
you will depend partly on how impaired your own glucose tolerance
is. Consider Home Blood Glucose Testing
If you have found that your fasting blood glucose is rising
over time, even if it is normal and certainly if you "officially"
have impaired glucose intolerance, strongly consider getting
a home glucose meter and testing your own blood to see if you
can determine ways of eating, exercise, supplements, etc, that
help lower and stabilize your blood glucose.