Diabetes Mellitus is often just called “diabetes”;
it is a disease in which the body is unable to produce or
use insulin properly. Insulin is the hormone necessary for
cells to intake glucose, and for the conversion of glucose
into energy. The body cells cannot bring the glucose inside
the cell membrane and use it for energy. The glucose from
food accumulates outside of the cells, in the blood, and causes
|Two Major Types of
|Is also called “juvenile
onset” or “insulin-dependent”. In this
disease, the part of the pancreas that makes insulin is
destroyed, either by the body itself (autoimmune disease)
or by a virus. Fewer than 10% of people with diabetes
have Type 1 diabetes.
||Is sometimes known as
“adult onset” or “non-insulin-dependent”.
In the beginning, the pancreas is functioning and there
is plenty of insulin, but the body cells do not respond
to the insulin normally. Eventually, as the disease progresses,
the pancreas will stop making insulin, and the body acts
much like it does during Type 1 diabetes. Persons with
Type 2 diabetes tend to be older, overweight or obese,
and of minority ethnic origin. Approximately 90% of individuals
with diabetes have Type 2 diabetes.
Symptoms of untreated diabetes include increased output of
urine, weakness, weight loss, increased thirst and appetite,
blurred vision, fatigue, and frequent infections.
Persons with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes must watch their diets,
exercise regularly, and test their blood sugar levels. Individuals
with Type 1 usually must take injections of insulin to counteract
the lack of insulin-producing cells in their pancreas. The
amount of insulin needed is based on the types and amounts
of foods that are consumed and the day’s activities.
Individuals with Type 2 diabetes may or may not need to take
Untreated diabetes can cause problems for almost every body
system and organ. If blood sugar levels are allowed to fall
too low, the person can experience hypoglycemia. Mild symptoms
include confusion, nervousness, and shaking; serious symptoms
can include convulsions and fainting.
If blood sugar levels rise too high, the condition is called
hyperglycemia. High blood sugar damages many organs. Typically,
damage occurs gradually (over time) and can include problems
- Eyes –
vessels in the retina, the back part of the eye, are damaged
causing loss of vision (blindness)
- Heart –
vessels are damaged leading to heart disease and heart attack
- Stroke –
vessels in the brain are damaged, leading to blockage of
blood flow and death of part of the brain
– the kidneys filter the blood and estimate waste
products, they also maintain the blood pressure and fluids
in the body. High blood sugar damages the blood vessels
in the kidneys leading to fatigue, nausea and vomiting,
itching or yellow skin, heartburn, metal taste in the mouth,
and edema (swelling).
- Nerves –
high blood sugar can damage the nervous system, especially
the nerves in the feet, legs, and hands.
- Feet and/or legs
– damaged vessels and nerves can lead to loss of sensation
and a variety of foot problems including swelling, soreness,
blisters, sores, and tissue loss. In some cases, limb amputation
There is no one correct diet for people with diabetes. The
amount and type of food you eat, the time you eat, the type
of disease you have and its severity, the amount and type
of activity you engage in during each day, your body weight
and gender, and the type and amount of medication you take
all affect what you can eat.
The main goal of the treatment is to maintain the blood sugar
levels within a normal range – not too high or too low.
To do this, the individual typically keeps a fairly strict
schedule of diet, exercise, blood sugar testing, and medication.
Small meals are dispersed throughout the day with snacks in
between. Exercising 30-60 minutes each day is strongly encouraged,
both to maintain a healthy body weight and to help control
the blood sugar. Medication and blood testing are done on
a regular basis.