Interesting Facts About Diabetes Mellitus

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Diabetes definition

Diabetes mellitus can lead to numerous other health issues making it one of the most complex conditions to understand. The Free Medical Dictionary gives this definition:


"Diabetes mellitus is a condition in which the pancreas no longer produces enough insulin or cells stop responding to the insulin that is produced, so that glucose in the blood cannot be absorbed into the cells of the body."


This seemingly straightforward problem with the pancreas can have serious consequences for the entire health of the body.

The pancreas is the organ that produces the hormone insulin. This regulates blood sugar levels.
The pancreas is the organ that produces the hormone insulin. This regulates blood sugar levels. | Source

Diabetes explained

Diabetes

At the present time, diabetes can only be controlled not cured. It can also increase a person's risk of developing a range of medical conditions such as:

  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Eye and vision problems
  • Kidney disease

In our body we have billions of cells. Each of them need energy in order to carry out the essential functions to maintain health. The main source of energy is a sugar known as glucose. This is a simple sugar we get from eating foods such as carbohydrates. When carbohydrates are digested this process produces glucose.

The glucose then goes into the blood stream where it's carried to the cells of the body. However, in order to get into the cells, the glucose needs help from a hormone called insulin. The hormone insulin - which is made in the pancreas - joins with glucose and takes into the cell to be used for energy. Insulin is like a key that can open the cell door. When the body cells no longer recognise the insulin 'key' or if not enough insulin is produced, then the glucose remains in the blood stream.

When glucose levels in the blood begin to rise, the body tries to dilute it, by drawing out fluid from the body cells and filtering it into the blood. When this extra fluid goes into the blood stream the body will then excrete it as urine. This is why many people with undiagnosed diabetes may pass a lot of urine. This is the body's way of getting rid of excess glucose in the blood and when the urine is tested, it will show 'positive' for sugar.

However, as the body gets rid of the excess glucose the body cells are left without energy. This sends out signals to eat food and people can feel extremely hungry. The body will then try to convert stored body proteins and fats into sugar for the cells.

When the body breaks down stored proteins and fats this can result in acid compounds forming. These are called ketones and may build up in the blood stream resulting in a conditon called 'ketoneacidosis'. This can be potentially fatal if it isn't treated.

The severity of the diabetes illness depends on what type the person suffers from and we'll now have a look at these.

Diabetes Facts

Did you know?
1. There are thousands of people in the Western world that are living with undiagnosed diabetes.
2. That many years ago doctors and nurses had to taste a person's urine to find out if it had sugar in it - there were no automatic chemical tests at that time.
3. It's thought that diabetes might have been present in ancient Egypt.
4. A Greek physician called Aretaeus is usually given the credit for the name 'diabetes'. He believed that diabetes was caused by snake bites.
5. The word diabetes comes from the Greek word for siphon and mellitus comes from Latin and means honey-like to infer the sugary taste of diabetic urine.
6. It was scientists in 1922, Canada, observing the behaviour of ants being attracted to the sugar in urine that led to the discovery that the pancreas was involved in blood sugar levels.

Types of diabetes mellitus

There are two main types of diabetes:

  • Type 1
  • Type 2


Type 1 Diabetes

The body's immune system - for some reason not yet known - destroys the specialised cells found in the pancreas, that produce the hormone insulin. No insulin goes into the blood stream to control the blood glucose levels, therefore the amount of this sugar begins to rise. This can seriously affect a person's health.

This form of diabetes normally develops in younger people - often when they are teenagers - up to the age of about 40. However, children can also develop type 1 diabetes. With type 1 the person has to take insulin for the remainder of their life as well as making some life-style adjustments such as diet.


Type 2 diabetes

With this form of diabetes the pancreas - the organ that produces insulin - does usually produce insulin, but not enough to properly control glucose levels. With some diabetics its the body cells that are unable to react appropriately to the insulin the pancreas produces. Type 2 diabetes is much more common than type 1 - according to NHS UK, about 90% of adults with diabetes have type 2.

It is often possible to control type 2 diabetes with changes in your diet and nothing else. However, type 2 does tend to be progressive and eventually some form of medication is usually required to help control the condition. The majority of people only require tablets and not insulin injections, however with a few people insulin may be required at sometime in the future.

Type 2 diabetes is frequently found in people who have become obese and is sometimes called 'maturity-onset' diabetes as it tends to affect older adults. However, according to WHO (World Health Organisation) in recent years, there has been a worrying trend of increasing numbers of children being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes - this was once a rare occurrence.


In addition there are also a number of medical terms specifically associated with diabetes. Below are some of the most common.

  • Hyperglycaemia This means high blood suger - hyper = high; glycaemia = glucose. An alternative spelling is - hyperglycemia.
  • Hypoglycaemia This means low blood sugar - hypo = low; glycaemia = glucose. An alternative spelling for this term is hypoglycemia.
  • Acidosis This happens when too much acid builds up in the body usually when there is a build up of ketones.
  • Ketoacidosis This is a very serious condition and potentially fatal. If the body is unable to use glucose as a source of energy - usually due to a problem with insulin as in diabetes - then it will use an alternative in order to get energy into the cells. The alternative is fat but during the break down process, acids are produced called ketones. The body tries to get rid of the ketones by passing a large volume of urine but this can lead to dehydration. In addition the ketones continue to increase and may begin to cause toxic reactions if not treated.
  • Polydipsia This is one of the main sypmptoms of diabetes and means having an excessive thirst. 'Poly' means many/multiple. Dipsisa comes from the Greek language and means a 'condition of thirst'.
  • Polyphagia This is another possible symptom of diabetes. When the body cells don't get enough energy - due to a problem with insulin and glucose not being able to get into the body cells - then the feelings of hunger are triggered. The person may take in more food, but until their insulin problem is solved, the body cannot get energy from the food, so the hunger cycle continues. Poly means meany/multiple and phagia comes from the Greek language and means 'eating or swallowing'.
  • Polyuria This is one of the most common symptoms of diabetes and means an excessive amount of urine being passed. This is usually due to high glucose levels in the blood that the body tries to reduce by eliminating the excess sugar through urine. Poly means many/multiple and uria means a condition of or relating to the urine.
  • Glycosuria - this is sugar being present in the urine and is another of the common indicators of diabetes. The word itself is made up of two parts. Glycos means glucose/sugar and uria means a conditon of or relating to urine.

Some of the most comon signs and symptoms of diabetes
Some of the most comon signs and symptoms of diabetes | Source

Diabetes Facts

Did you know?
According to the World Health Organisation there is a diabetic epidemic. This is being caused by the growing number of people who are overweight, obese and not taking enough physical exercise.
Diabetes types 1 and 2 can affect the eyesight.
Diabetes types 1 and 2 can affect the eyesight. | Source

Signs and symptoms of diabetes

According to one of the main support web sites for diabetes in the UK - diabetes.co.uk - there are a number of signs that will show when type 1 diabetes has developed:

  • Polydipsia - a constant thirst
  • Polyuria - passing urine in large amounts and frequently
  • Polyphagia - feeling continually hungry
  • Tired
  • Pale
  • Sweating
  • Weight loss
  • Vision is blurred
  • Genital itching and/or recurrent bouts of thrush
  • Scratches or other wounds are very slow to heal and skin infections may also develop
  • In some cases cramping of the muscles may occur
  • Some people may experience hyperventilation - breathing very quickly

All or some of these symptoms normally develop very quickly - over a couple of weeks or even a few days.

If you or a person you know has the above symptoms and in addition the following indications arise then seek emergency help immediately:

  • Stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting
  • High Temperature
  • Drastic loss of weight
  • Strong breath smell of acetone - like nail polish/varnish

These signs could be caused by the development of ketoacidosis and needs immediate medical treatment. It is important to watch out for these signs as about 1 in 4 people who have newly developed type 1 diabetes experience ketoacidosis.


Type 2 diabetes - signs and symptoms:

A number of people actually have this form of diabetes for quite some time before they are diagnosed with type 2. This is because the symptoms build up very slowly usually over a number of years and often are not recognised. According to medical site, Diabetes UK, there are probably around 850,000 adults who have type 2 diabetes without realising it. Not only that, but catching type 2 diabetes as early as possible prevents further damage to the cells that produce insulin. This will help in either preventing or significantly delaying the need for eventually having to use insulin.

In addition the indications that type 2 is present can be slightly different from the more serious form of type 1 diabetes:

  • Lethargy and fatigue especially after eating a meal
  • Feeling hungry often - this can also be feeling hungry not long after eating
  • Loss of weight suddenly and/or loss of muscle mass
  • Blurred vision
  • Thirsty often
  • Urinating often especially overnight
  • Genital itching and general skin itching, as well as the development of skin problems such as psoriasis
  • Frequent thrush infections
  • Wounds are very slow to heal


For many people the signs of type 2 diabetes are often more noticeable after eating a meal.


I hope this hub has been useful for people who are concerned about diabetes or for those who are simply interested. However, as always, the hub is for information only and not to be used as a substitute for professional medical advice and guidance.

In addition to the information in this hub, I would recommend having a read of an excellent hub written by tonymead60 about a new drug called 'Byetta' being used to control Type 2 Diabetes and is a very interesting medication.

More by this Author


Comments 33 comments

gags3480 profile image

gags3480 3 years ago from Kanpur, India

It's really a dangerous disease. Thx for sharing this useful hub.

Voted up.


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 3 years ago from Shelton

Seeker thank you so much for this easy/explained and useful hub.. I like when hubs break it down for the lay.. and makes it easy to understand bless you for that :)


lovedoctor926 3 years ago

Useful information. I will pass this along to someone that I know. thanks for sharing


mperrottet profile image

mperrottet 3 years ago from Pennsauken, NJ

Very well presented hub with excellent information that will be useful to many people concerned about diabetes. My husband is diabetic, and didn't realize it until he passed out - he was in his early 40s at the time. It's important that people know the symptoms and get help as early as possible. Voted up and useful.


Kalmiya profile image

Kalmiya 3 years ago from North America

This is a very good hub about diabetes. I am a kidney transplant transcriptionist and always see that diabetes is one of the significant contributors to kidney problems. Voted up!


Seeker7 profile image

Seeker7 3 years ago from Fife, Scotland Author

Hi gags3480, many thanks for stopping by and for the vote up - glad you enjoyed the hub!


Seeker7 profile image

Seeker7 3 years ago from Fife, Scotland Author

Hi Frank, many thanks for stopping by and glad that you enjoyed the hub and that the format was easy to get through.

Hope your having a nice weekend! Take care.


Seeker7 profile image

Seeker7 3 years ago from Fife, Scotland Author

Hi lovedoctor926, many thanks for stopping by and glad that you enjoyed the hub.


Seeker7 profile image

Seeker7 3 years ago from Fife, Scotland Author

Hi mperrottet, many thanks for stopping by and for taking the time to leave a comment.

That must have been very frightening for you and your husband and diabetes often manifests like this, very suddenly. I agree with you that it's important for people to know the signs of this illness. The sooner treatment begins the less damage done.

Many thanks also for the vote - greatly appreciated.


Seeker7 profile image

Seeker7 3 years ago from Fife, Scotland Author

Hi Kalmiya, many thanks for stopping by and taking the time to leave a comment.

I can understand why you would see diabetes coming up so often in relation to kidney disease. It's one of the worst illnesses for causing kidney damage.


kashmir56 profile image

kashmir56 3 years ago from Massachusetts

Hi Helen, very interesting and well researched article with very useful information within it.

Vote up and more !!! Sharing !


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

This is a very useful hub, Seeker7! Thank you for sharing all the details, which will help a lot of people.


Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

Gypsy Rose Lee 3 years ago from Riga, Latvia

Thanks for this informative and interesting hub. Great information about a serious condition. I'm not sure what kind of diabetes my aunt had this was years ago. She was terribly overweight and spent the last years of her life mostly in bed. Somehow she got gangrene in her leg. The doctors said it wouldn't heal because of her diabetes and to save her they had to immediately amputate her leg. She chose to die. Passing this on.


Seeker7 profile image

Seeker7 3 years ago from Fife, Scotland Author

Hi Tom, many thanks for stopping by and glad that you enjoyed the hub! Thanks also for the vote up and share - greatly appreciated - thank you!!


Seeker7 profile image

Seeker7 3 years ago from Fife, Scotland Author

H Alicia, as always, lovely to hear from you and glad that you enjoyed the hub! Hopefully it might be of some help to some folks!


Seeker7 profile image

Seeker7 3 years ago from Fife, Scotland Author

Hi Rasma, Lovely to hear from you as always. That is very sad about your aunt and unfortunately all too common. I can understand someone, especially in the later years of their life, choosing death over amputation. It's such a traumatic operation and experience to go through - and who's to say the poor soul would have survived the surgery anyway? Gangrene is so painful as well, my Grandad's sister was a diabetic since she was young - it's a miracle she survived so long as the treatment wasn't that great when she was a child. Anyway, she also had gangrene like your aunt, but the toxins from the gangrene killed her before any plans for an operation could be made. I don't know what Aunty Jane Geddes would have chosen to do? Perhaps the same as your own aunt!


Rosemay50 profile image

Rosemay50 3 years ago from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand

Helen you are wonderful at explaining things in simple terms that we can all understand, thank you it is very much appreciated.

I have type 2 even though I am well within my correct weight range and my IBM is in 'healthy weight' It is only mild though and diet controlled.

My daughter had a little friend with type 1 diabetes, I was amazed to watch this little one injecting herself so bravely, as my daughter would literally run a mile as soon as she saw a needle, we had to chase after her down the road once and drag her back kicking and screaming, I felt sooo guilty for making her but it was an essential jab.

Thanks again for a wonderful presentation that is relevant to so many

Voting Up


Lizam1 profile image

Lizam1 3 years ago from Victoria BC

I am impressed by how well you have explained the condition and kept the language simple. This is a huge and growing problem. Thanks for all the research and work you have put in. I will share this and vote up as useful.


viewfinders profile image

viewfinders 3 years ago from God's own country(kerala)

yes, its really dangerous disease and it should be properly treated ,thanks for sharing its details with us.


Seeker7 profile image

Seeker7 3 years ago from Fife, Scotland Author

Hi Rosemay, lovely to hear from you and what an interesting comment!

I'm sorry to hear that you've got type 2 but from what you are saying I don't think this will cause you any real problems as you are obviously managing your health very well.

Yes, watching these wee kids injecting their insulin is amazing! They seem to have no fear whatsoever. I know a colleague of mine who went on to become a Diabetic Nurse Specialist, would often take her students to watch we kids injecting their insulin both as inspiration but also to see how to inject properly as these kids were so good at it.

What a shame, your wee lass isn't the only ones who are scared of needles, it seems to be a very common fear and not just with kids either. But you're right, they have to get over the fear as so many of the childhood injections are essential.

I'm glad once again that you enjoyed one of my hubs Rosemay and as always, thank you for the vote up - greatfully appreciated!!


Seeker7 profile image

Seeker7 3 years ago from Fife, Scotland Author

Hi Lizam1, many thanks for stopping by and glad that you enjoyed the hub. Many thanks also for the vote up and share - truly appreciated!


Seeker7 profile image

Seeker7 3 years ago from Fife, Scotland Author

Hi viewfinders, many thanks for stopping by and glad that you enjoyed the hub!


pooja2109 profile image

pooja2109 3 years ago from Toronto

very useful hub!


Seeker7 profile image

Seeker7 3 years ago from Fife, Scotland Author

Hi pooja2109, many thanks for stopping by and glad you enjoyed the article.


tonymead60 profile image

tonymead60 3 years ago from Yorkshire

seeker7

interesting and useful hub. I'm a type2 just gone onto insulin after several years of trying to keep control with diet and tablets. There is a new control drup injection called Byetta which is taken before meals and although it does not reduce sugar directly it helps in other ways. I've lost about 10kg since starting with it. I don't know how many people know about it yet.

regards

Tony


Seeker7 profile image

Seeker7 3 years ago from Fife, Scotland Author

Hi Tony, lovely to hear from you but sorry that you have type 2 diabetes! Now that's very interesting about the new control drug - and to loose 10kg - wow! I've only heard bits and pieces about it and didn't feel I had enough knowledge and information as yet to put it in the article. From what I hear, I think it would deserve an article on its own. At this time, I don't think that many people are aware of this new drug, but thanks for letting us all know and I've earmarked this one for a future article.


tonymead60 profile image

tonymead60 3 years ago from Yorkshire

seeker7

I've finished my hub on Byetta, and I was wondering if you would like to swap links, as I think it might be beneficial to many people.

regards

Tony


Seeker7 profile image

Seeker7 3 years ago from Fife, Scotland Author

Hi Tony, sorry to take so long to get back to you, I've had family staying for the holiday weekend and it's been a bit hectic.

I think that's a great idea about the links and I agree, it would be very beneficial for a lot of people. Will put a link to your hub into mine. Thanks again.


teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 3 years ago

Great information and it will surely help those who need to know the facts on this Diabetic condition.


Seeker7 profile image

Seeker7 3 years ago from Fife, Scotland Author

Hi teaches12345, glad that you enjoyed the hub and many thanks for stopping by.


tonymead60 profile image

tonymead60 3 years ago from Yorkshire

seeker7

I do not see the link to my Byetta site. I've already put your link on my site.

regards

Tony


Seeker7 profile image

Seeker7 3 years ago from Fife, Scotland Author

Hi Tony, sorry about the delay I've been down with flu! I put the link up quite a few days ago along with a mention of your hub but will check it out!


Padmajah Badri profile image

Padmajah Badri 17 months ago from India

Hi .A very Enlightening Hub.Thank you.Voted up.Happy writing

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