Diabetes Mellitus is a severe medical condition affecting millions of people worldwide. Usually, the severity comes from the inability to produce or respond to insulin, a hormone that regulates blood sugar levels. In this regard, it is essential to understand the condition’s causes, risks, and treatments.
Needless to say, diabetes can lead to severe complications such as kidney failure, blindness, and even death. That’s why knowing the risk factors and taking proactive steps to manage your diabetes can help you stay healthy. Read on to learn about the disorder and how to reduce the risk of complications:
What is diabetes mellitus?
Diabetes mellitus, or diabetes, is a metabolic disorder that affects the body’s ability to regulate sugar in the bloodstream. It affects over 422 million people worldwide and is one of the leading causes of death and disability.
Typically, it occurs when the body cannot produce enough insulin or is not responding to the body’s needs. Insulin is a hormone that helps to control the amount of glucose in the blood. When there is too much glucose in the blood, it can cause serious health problems.
What are the types of diabetes mellitus?
Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder triggered by insufficient insulin production. Usually, experts may refer to this type of diabetes as insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM). While the cause of this type of diabetes is still unknown, it may relate to genetic and environmental factors. In this regard, people with type 1 diabetes must take daily insulin doses to control their blood glucose levels.
Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is the most common, accounting for 90-95% of all cases of diabetes. Healthcare providers refer to the condition as non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM). Type 2 diabetes typically comes from an unhealthy lifestyle, such as being overweight or obese, or inactive. People with this type may be able to control their blood glucose levels by responding to insulin with lifestyle changes and medication.
Gestational diabetes develops during pregnancy and usually resolves after delivery. It affects about 4% of all pregnancies in the United States and can cause serious health problems for both mother and baby. The typical cause is hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy and requires diet and exercise to control.
There are several other types of diabetes, including maturity-onset diabetes of the young (MODY), latent autoimmune diabetes in adults (LADA), and steroid-induced diabetes. Each type has its own unique set of symptoms and causes. Still, they opt for a combination of diet and lifestyle changes and medications.
What are the causes of diabetes mellitus?
Typically, many factors may lead to diabetes, including genetics, age, and race. Still, most causes relate to a sedentary lifestyle and unhealthy diet. Here’s a complete list of the possible causes of diabetes mellitus:
- Genetics – Diabetes can run in families, and certain genetic traits can predispose someone to develop diabetes.
- Obesity – Being overweight or obese can lead to insulin resistance, which increases the risk of type 2 diabetes.
- Lack of Physical Activity – People who are not active enough may be at greater risk of developing diabetes.
- High Blood Pressure – High blood pressure is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes and a complication of diabetes.
- Unhealthy Diet – Eating foods high in sugar and fat can increase the risk of type 2 diabetes.
- Age – As people age, their risk of type 2 diabetes increases.
- Race and Ethnicity – Certain ethnic and racial groups have a higher risk of developing diabetes, including African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Native Americans, and Asian Americans.
- Gestational Diabetes – Pregnant women who develop high blood glucose levels during pregnancy may have gestational diabetes, increasing their risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life.
- Other Medical Conditions – Some medical conditions, such as PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) and pancreatic diseases, can increase the risk of developing diabetes.
What are the symptoms of diabetes mellitus?
While the causes of diabetes may not be severe, the symptoms are often evident and distinguishable. Here are some of the noteworthy signs of diabetes mellitus:
- Increased thirst and hunger: When the blood sugar levels become too high, the body cannot take up all the glucose from the bloodstream. As a result, the body signals for more fluids, leading to increased thirst and frequent urination. The body also signals for more food, leading to increased hunger.
- Fatigue: Diabetes affects the body’s ability to use energy, resulting in fatigue and lack of energy.
- Weight loss: High glucose levels in the blood can lead to increased urination, which can cause dehydration and lead to weight loss.
- Blurry vision: High sugar levels in the blood can damage the tiny blood vessels in the eyes and cause blurry vision.
- Slow-healing wounds: Diabetes can affect blood circulation and slow down wounds’ healing process.
- Numbness or tingling sensation in hands and feet: High glucose levels can damage the nerves, leading to a feeling of numbness or tingling in the hands and feet.
- Frequent infections: Diabetes can lower the body’s ability to fight off infections, making it easier to contract them.
- Dark patches on the skin: Dark patches on the skin are caused by higher insulin levels in the blood. This is known as acanthosis nigricans.
- Yeast infections: High glucose levels in the blood can cause yeast infections in women, particularly in areas such as the mouth, vagina, and skin folds.
What are the complications of diabetes mellitus?
Diabetes can lead to serious long-term complications, such as blood vessels and organ damage. High blood sugar levels can harm the nerves, blood vessels, and organs in the body, resulting in various medical problems.
Some of the most common complications include an increased risk of stroke, heart disease, high blood pressure, blindness, kidney failure, nerve damage, and amputations. People with diabetes are also more likely to experience skin infections and may have trouble responding to insulin.
Diabetes is also associated with a higher risk of developing depression and other mental health issues. Left untreated, diabetes mellitus can eventually lead to life-threatening conditions such as coma or death. It is essential to manage diabetes properly with regular monitoring of blood glucose levels and lifestyle changes to reduce the risk of complications.
How to diagnose diabetes mellitus?
Diabetes mellitus is typically diagnosed through symptoms, physical exams, and laboratory tests. A doctor will usually begin by asking about the patient’s medical history and carrying out a physical examination. Blood and urine tests may also be conducted to measure sugar levels in the body. An oral glucose tolerance test can also be used to measure how the body is responding to insulin.
If any of these tests come back with abnormal results, the patient may be diagnosed with diabetes mellitus. Other tests may be recommended to determine the type of diabetes and any potential complications, such as an ultrasound to check for risk factors like high blood pressure, kidney failure, and damage to blood vessels. Blood glucose level tests can also be used to confirm the diagnosis and measure the severity of the condition.
It’s important to remember that diabetes mellitus can be managed and controlled with lifestyle changes, medication, and regular checkups. The key is early diagnosis and treatment, as the latter can go a long way in avoiding the serious complications associated with this disease.
Regularly monitoring your blood sugar level and responding to insulin are key components of managing diabetes. The lifestyle changes you make can also help reduce the risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes, such as high blood pressure, being overweight or obese, lack of physical activity, and an unhealthy diet.
If you have any symptoms of diabetes mellitus or any of the risk factors listed above, reach out to your doctor to get tested for the disease. You can take steps to avoid complications such as heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, eye problems, and nerve damage.
Take control of your diabetes by understanding the condition and making the necessary lifestyle changes. Living a healthy lifestyle and regular medical care will help you maintain a normal blood glucose level and live a healthy life with diabetes mellitus.
How do I know if I have diabetes?
Suppose you have any signs or symptoms of diabetes, such as frequent urination, extreme thirst or hunger, fatigue, blurred vision, weight loss, or wounds that heal slowly. In that case, you must talk to your doctor about getting tested.
How can I prevent diabetes mellitus?
Living a healthy lifestyle is the best way to prevent diabetes mellitus. Keeping a healthy weight, exercising regularly, and eating a balanced diet can all reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Moreover, avoiding smoking and drinking alcohol in moderation can also reduce risk.
Can proper diet help manage diabetes mellitus?
Yes, diet plays an essential role in managing diabetes mellitus. Regular meals with plenty of fruits and vegetables help to keep blood sugar levels within a healthy range. Reducing foods high in sugar and fat can also help. Additionally, people with diabetes need to monitor their carbohydrate intake as well.