Diabetes mellitus is a disease characterized by persistent high blood sugar levels, or hyperglycemia. Diabetes mellitus is a metabolic disease that requires diagnosis. It is treated through lifestyle changes and insulin treatments.
Since insulin was first used in 1921 diabetes is labeled a treatable but chronic disease. The main problem with diabetes is that it causes complications such as chronic renal failure, cardiovascular disease, retinal damage, impotence and nerve damage. An individual with diabetes may have trouble healing small wounds and is at increased risk to develop gangrene, especially in the hands, feet and limbs.
There are two major types of diabetes -- type 1 and type 2.
- Type 1 diabetes is based on genetics and an abnormal immune response.
- The cause of type 2 diabetes is still unknown. However, medical professionals believe that it does have a genetic component. There are factors which can put people at risk for type 2 diabetes. These risk factors include:
- Leading a sedentary lifestyle. Inactivity.
- Being overweight or obese. If you weigh more than 20% above what is considered a healthy weight for you, it can increase your chance of developing type 2 diabetes.
- Unhealthy eating.
- Family health history that includes diabetes.
- Pancreas problems.
- Race -- African Americans, American Indians and Hispanics are more at risk for developing type 2 diabetes.
- If you have ever had gestational diabetes or given birth to a baby that weighed more than nine pounds.
- Regularly taking cortisone and some blood pressure medications.
Gestational diabetes is known as type 3 diabetes. It is not as common as type 1 or type 2 diabetes and only occurs in about 4% of pregnant females.
- Gestational diabetes resembles type 2 diabetes in many ways. Gestational diabetes develops in some pregnant women and can damage the health of the mother and fetus. Gestational diabetes will usually improve or disappear after delivery. Women who have gestational diabetes are more at risk for developing type 2 diabetes later in life. The cause of gestational diabetes is brought on by a combination of the body secreting an inadequate supply of insulin and/or the body not responding to it.
- At least one person in every sixteen has diabetes.
- Diabetes can be controlled with medication. Some individuals can get by with an oral medication. However, most diabetics have to give themselves an injection of insulin. There are new products being developed which may eventually enable diabetics to inhale their insulin.
- A person with diabetes will have to monitor their blood glucose levels. Diabetics will have to purchase a blood glucose monitor to measure the sugar content on their blood. These readings should be taken 3-5 times daily. These readings will alert a diabetic if their blood glucose level is too high or too low.
- A diabetic has to be very conscious about the foods they consume. Diabetics will be given diet information upon being diagnosed with diabetes. Many diabetics enroll in a diabetic diet class at their local hospital to learn about healthy eating.
- Exercise is very important to a diabetic. Exercise helps to lower blood sugar. Walking is a great exercise which can greatly help to control diabetes. Diabetics are encouraged to exercise daily, even if it is just to take a walk.
- There is no cure for diabetes.