Diabetes Mellitus or just “diabetes” is not only an insulin deficit disease. It is a complex hormonal and lifestyle dysregulation.
What is it?
Diabetes mellitus or just diabetes, as the general population refers to this condition. It is a metabolic disorder that involves blood sugar and needs long-term medical care. This condition represents a global concern and careful medical management to avoid the foreseeable drawbacks that it carries.
It entails an elevation of glucose in the blood (blood sugar level) due to numerous hormonal changes in the body. Insulin and glucagon are the main hormones in these pathologic processes of regulating blood sugar, the former given to lack of effectiveness or production, and the latter due to overactivity. The critical function of the insulin is to downgrade the levels of glucose in the blood if it fails to do a proper job; hence, the glucose levels rise. On the contrary, glucagon enhances the glucose levels in the blood, so if its function is maintained or even increases in a situation of insulin lacking, it would similarly support the elevation of glucose levels in the blood.
A strict regulation between insulin secretion and action must exist, creating a loop for the healthy development of the so-called insulin-sensitive tissues and regulating blood sugar. These tissues are the liver, muscle, and fatty (adipose) tissue. When insulin misfunctions or lack of production impairs the loop, blood sugar rises, and these tissues modify themselves to an unhealthy condition or even illness.
How many types of diabetes mellitus there are?
There are two types of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder where beta cells, which are the insulin producers, are early destroyed in the pancreas. It has a vital genetic component, debuting in the early years, thus affecting children. On the contrary, type 2 diabetes occurs as a result of a deficient insulin receptor in tissues that utterly causes impairment of beta cells to function in the pancreas. A mixture of genetic and lifestyle factors creates it and affects mostly obese adults.
The two types cause an increase in blood sugar levels, but in different ways and patients. Hence, each one has its symptoms, complaints, and treatment. Typically, type 1 diabetes patient is a child with an acute presentation of symptoms after a latent autoimmune diabetes hatch. In contrast, type 2 diabetes is an older obese adult with many other chronic conditions underneath.
Other illnesses also have the term diabetes within and are included in this condition. Many of the diseases here would have blood glucose problems such as gestational diabetes, prediabetes, juvenile diabetes, monogenic diabetes, or others due to similarly in symptoms as diabetes insipidus. However, some of these conditions represent a minority of the cases and are beyond the scope of this article.
What is prediabetes?
Prediabetes is a condition where there is a high blood sugar level but not enough to be diabetes. It is ideal to find patients in this state of the disease because for them getting low blood sugar lifestyle modifications would be enough to stop the progression of the disease in most of the cases. Poor blood sugar control requires adequate measures. The patient could develop type 2 diabetes. Usually, the treatment protocols for type 2 diabetes are the same for prediabetes but without any drug. Luckily, the percentage of patients that follow through a diabetes condition substantially reduces with these measures.
What is gestational diabetes?
Gestational diabetes is a glucose elevation in blood with a beginning or first detection during pregnancy. Sadly, persistent hormonal impairments over time in pregnant patients is common. Also, persistent elevation of glucose during pregnancy directly harms the fetus. Because of this, a systematic screening for glucose blood levels takes place throughout most pregnancies.
Gestational diabetes explains diabetes in almost all pregnancies, with less than 10% having a previous type 2 diabetes diagnostic. The first appearance of glucose problems during or after pregnancy is ubiquitous. All pregnant patients need assessment either pregnant or after delivery for effective control of their condition.
How common it is?
The International Diabetes Federation estimations in 2015 were that 1 in eleven adults aging from 20 to 79 years had diabetes mellitus worldwide. This statistic would be approximately 415 million adults. Unfourtanely, the expectation is that it would rise to 624 billion by 2040, specifically in countries that are experiencing an upgrade in their economic conditions.
Importantly, in 2017, nearly ten percent of the whole population of the United States had a diagnosis of diabetes. Also, in that same study, a third of the adult American population had a diagnosis of prediabetes, which is, as I already told you, just a preceding step for getting a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes.
Patients depend upon insulin to survive?
In opposition to Type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes patients don’t depend on insulin drugs to survive or to diminish blood sugar. I bring this to light due to the usually used old terms describing diabetic patients as dependent or non-dependent on insulin, which was type 1 and 2 diabetes patients correspondingly.
For type 1 diabetes patients, it is not that complex to understand. There is direct destruction of the pancreatic cells which produce insulin. Therefore, when in type 1 diabetes patients exist a complete lack of insulin. The elimination of a significant part of the pancreatic tissue already happened. There is no loop because there isn’t that portion of the pancreas in charge of insulin production.
Usually, type 2 diabetes patients just need other types of treatment that merely facilitates either secretion or function of insulin, rather than insulin injections. The handling can be this way while there is enough insulin; however, if severe type 2 diabetes with uncontrollable blood sugar happens due to a complete pancreas failure. A change of treatment towards insulin injection is warranted. Nevertheless, for type 1 diabetes, the only option, for now, is insulin injections. There are three types of insulin with different lengths of action within the body. That will utterly determine the frequency of injections. Because the target is to simulate the hormone function and concentrations within the blood as the pancreas would naturally do.
What is the main cause of diabetes?
A genetic background for this condition is significant; therefore, if a family member has this disease, there is a likelihood of having it also. However, the environmental factor also plays a vital role, so there is an interaction between both components. In a few words, subjects that are susceptible by nature. And also have an unhealthy lifestyle (people with obesity or high-calorie intake) will ultimately develop the condition. The vast majority of type 2 diabetes patients carry an obesity diagnosis. So it must be no surprise that the prevention of many cases is just by lifestyle modifications that can lower weight.
Does diabetes raise your risk for other health problems?
Indeed, among patients with diabetes, cardiovascular complications are a leading cause of death (heart problems or stroke). Besides, kidney problems and eye issues (diabetic retinopathy) are widespread chronic diabetes conditions. Patients with diabetes aren’t only affected by chronic illnesses. In fact, they can also develop severe and acute conditions such as diabetic ketoacidosis and hyperosmolar hyperglycemic state. These are critical situations where the patient needs to get to the emergency room. Insulin, besides other treatments, mostly through the vein, is mandatory. And again, a reduction in blood glucose control is the core of all these acute or chronic complications.
Diabetes has a well-known set of cardiovascular complications such as coronary heart disease, peripheral vascular disease, and cerebrovascular disease. These are among the first causes of death in the United States. What is more important is that diabetes represents a severe risk factor for these conditions independently from age, smoking status, weight, and systolic blood pressure. In fact, patients with diabetes are twice more likely to die from these diseases.
Peripheral vascular disease in diabetic patients is a leading cause of non-traumatic lower-limb amputations. This issue has to do with all the complex harm happening that involves nerves, vessels, and a deterioration in the immune system that predispose to recurrent and severe skin infections.
Diabetic retinopathy affects approximately a third of patients with diabetes. Importantly, this condition can lead to a progressive loss of sight. Even though it can be treated and slowed, if it progresses in excess, it can yield an irreversible state of sight loss.
Furthermore, the link between diabetes and other diseases has been under study, such as depression, schizophrenia, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, periodontal disease, and hypertension during pregnancy (gestational hypertension.)
Can you have diabetes and not know?
The symptoms of diabetes are usually silent or mild. However, as the years pass and the condition progresses, the symptoms begin to flair and can be very high-pitch and disabling, for that moment is already late.
The classic symptoms comprise an increase in voiding, thirst, appetite, and weight loss but not in association with diet. Other symptoms are blurred vision, numbing of legs, and repetitive infections. However, most of the patient doesn’t notice them or are just without symptoms.
How many diabetic patients will develop kidney disease?
Diabetic nephropathy is a common complication of diabetes. Over 20 years of a diabetic patient’s disease, half of them would develop this condition. Specifically, 10% of type 2 diabetes patients die from it. It isn’t usual to find stable kidney disease before ten years of diabetes progression. But some preludious lesions can be observed in urine samples, though.
For a kidney disease to become established and progressive, many previous steps can tell about the actual risk, mostly when the increased blood sugar levels damage the kidney. There is a marked excretion of proteins by the kidney that can modify standard urine samples. This abnormal process is called “proteinuria,” and diabetic patients that aren’t experiencing it, even after 20 or 25 years, take pleasure in just a minimal risk for developing this condition.
Patients with diabetes that aren’t receiving treatment tend to have high blood sugar levels; therefore, they are at a higher risk of developing nephropathy. If this high blood sugar situation continues over time, kidney failure could happen, and it is a life-threatening condition that could even require dialysis.
Why does type 2 diabetes cause your feet to go numb?
Numbness in feet is one of the extensive lists of neurologic complications in diabetic patients. It can affect as many as half of the patients diagnosed with diabetes. It usually starts as an asymptomatic condition until patients begin experiencing symptoms due to nerve damage. This nerve impairment could include loss of sense and weakness of distal upper and lower extremities. The nerve damage takes place due to uncontrolled high glucose levels over time that damages and changes healthy neural cells wrecking its functions. This condition is called “sensorimotor neuropathy.”
It can be dangerous without treatment?
Several complications exist for diabetic patients that aren’t following a proper treatment such as cardiovascular illnesses (high blood pressure), cognitive decline, inner-eye harms, kidney illness, neurologic impairment, lung or ear infections, even cancer.
Ignoring high glucose blood levels can be dangerous. The management of prediabetes can be without actual medication; only with diet, physical activity, and close monitoring, this will not hold any complications. However, the diagnosis of diabetes depending on if it is type 1 or 2, strict adherence to treatment must take place because to this day. The evidence suggests that only early diagnosis and management could stop diabetes advancement and even mortality.
How can you prevent or treat diabetes?
For staying safe major risk factors should be avoided or diminish that include increased waist circumference, increased blood pressure, increased cholesterol levels, unhealthy diet factors, cigarette smoking, sedentary lifestyle, and psychological stress.
Hence, the outcome for this illness highly relies on proper medical management for blood sugar control. Treatment comprises diet and exercise modification (for weight loss), medications, regular monitoring by physicians, and periodic laboratory assessment.
How can I know that I have the disease?
For protecting your health, I did a Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus symptoms checker to survey how likely it is that you have this awful illness. It would only take a few minutes and might save your life!