Diabetes Mellitus (Commonly referred to as Diabetes) is a disease of the Pancreas, an organ behind your stomach that produces the hormone insulin. Insulin helps the body use food for energy. When a person has diabetes, the pancreas either cannot produce enough insulin, uses the insulin incorrectly, or both. Insulin works together with glucose (sugar) in the bloodstream to help it enter the body's cells to be burned for energy. If the insulin isn't functioning properly, glucose cannot enter the cells. This causes glucose levels in the blood to rise, creating a condition of high blood sugar or diabetes, and leaving the cells without fuel.
There are two common forms of diabetes: type 1 and type 2 :
Generally, type 2 diabetes is more common in people over age 40 who are overweight. However, the prevalence of obesity among people in North America has increased the number of people under age 40 who are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Nine out of 10 people with diabetes have type 2.
Health care providers do not yet know what causes diabetes. The following factors may increase your chance of getting diabetes :
It is important to note that sugar itself does not cause diabetes. Eating a lot of sugar can lead to tooth decay, but it does not cause diabetes.
The preferred method of diagnosing diabetes is the fasting plasma glucose test (FPG). The FPG measures your blood glucose level after you have fasted (not eaten anything) for 10 to 12 hours.
Normal fasting blood glucose is between 70 and 100 mg/dl for people who do not have diabetes. The standard diagnoses of diabetes is made when:
Another test, the A1C test, measures your average percentage of glycated hemoglobin, or HbA1c, in the blood. This test tells you about your blood glucose control for the past 2 to 3 months. It gives you an idea of how your treatment plan is coming along but does not replace daily testing.
Other symptoms of diabetes may include:
Retinopathy (eye disease): All patients with diabetes should see an ophthalmologist (eye specialist) yearly for a dilated eye examination. Patients with known eye disease, symptoms of blurred vision in one eye or who have blind spots may need to see their ophthalmologist more frequently.
Nephropathy (kidney disease): Urine testing should be performed yearly. Regular blood pressure checks also are important because control of high blood pressure is essential in slowing kidney disease. Generally, blood pressure should be maintained less than 130/80 in adults. Persistent leg or feet swelling also may be a symptom of kidney disease and should be reported to your doctor.
Neuropathy (nerve disease): Numbness or tingling in your feet should be reported to your doctor at your regular visits. You should check your feet daily for redness, calluses, cracks or breakdown in skin tissue. If you notice these symptoms before scheduled visits, notify your doctor immediately.
Other long-term may complications include :
There is no cure for diabetes, but it can be treated and controlled. The goals of managing diabetes are to :
1 ) Keep your blood glucose levels as near to normal as possible by balancing food intake with medication and activity.
2 ) Maintain your blood cholesterol and triglyceride (lipid) levels as near the normal ranges as possible by decreasing the total amount of fat to 30% or less of your total daily calories and by reducing saturated fat and cholesterol.
3 ) Control your blood pressure. (Your blood pressure should not go over 130/80.)
4 ) Decrease or possibly prevent the development of diabetes-related health problems.
You hold the keys to managing your diabetes by :
What you do at home every day affects your blood glucose more than what your doctor can do every few months during your check-ups.