by Kimberly Allen R.N.
Diabetes Mellitus (DM), is most frequently referred to as just diabetes, covers a group of metabolic disorders involving the regulation of our blood glucose levels (blood sugar levels). All types of diabetes involve having a blood glucose level that is too high. Over the last 20years the rates of diabetes in the US and Canada has been increasing significantly at alarming rates. At least 26 million people in the US have some form of diabetes with at least 7 million that are undiagnosed. there are estimates that there are also at least 57 million people suffering from prediabetes. The CDC considers the situation an epidemic. The National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse states that diabetes alone costs $132 million every year in the US. The incidence of diabetes increases with age and the ADA estimates that 8.6 million in the US 60 years of age and older have diabetes.
Worldwide, there are an estimated 285 million people with diabetes, 90% of which have type 2. The World Health Organization expects this figure to double by 2030. The most noticeable increase is in developing countries, especially Africa and Asia. Most scientists believe this is due to the increased spread of the “western diet” to these area’s. Diabetes affects the levels of glucose in our bloodstream. Glucose is our main source of energy for our cells that make up the various organs, muscles and other tissues in our body. We get glucose from the foods we eat and our liver. During the digestive process the glucose is absobed into the bloodstream. Then with the help of insulin the glucose is absorbed into the cells. Insulin is a hormone that is produced in the pancreas and when you eat it pushes some of that insulin out into the bloodstream. Basically what the insulin does is open microscopic “doors” in the cells allowing the glucose to enter. as the glucose enters the cells there is less glucose in your bloodstream therefore lowering the glucose levels in your blood. Another major factor that contributes to your blood glucose levels is the liver. The liver is like a warehouse for glucose storage and manufacturing. If you don’t eat enough food to provide the glucose needed your liver will then release some of its glucose to help maintain your blood glucose levels.
There are 4 types of Diabetes Melletus;
1. Prediabetes occurs when your blood glucose level is considered too high to be called normal but not high enough to be called diabetes. In prediabetes your blood sugar runs between 101 mg/dl -126mg/dl fasting or if your level is between 140mg/dl – 200mg/dl 2 hours after eating. People with prediabetes have the greatest risk of developing type 2 DM.
2. Type 1 diabetes mellitus occurs because for some unknown reason your immune system attacks and destroys the cells in your pancreas that produce insulin. This means there is little to no insulin for the pancreas to release into the bloodstream to open the “doors” to the cells for the glucose to enter so instead of going into the cells to be used as energy it continues to circulate in the bloodstream. Most people that are diagnosed with this type are diagnosed before the age of 30. Approximately 10% of all diabetic’s have this type.
3. Type 2 diabetes mellitus occurs when your body develops a resistance to insulin. the pancreas continues to produce insulin, frequently even more than normal, but since your body has developed a resistance to it’s effects it needs more and more insulin. The pancreas just can’t produce the amounts needed. The number one cause of type 2 diabetes is being over weight to obese. Type 2 diabetes in children used to be rare, however unfortunately it is now much more common.
4. Gestational diabetes occurs during pregnancy. One of the functions of the placenta is to produce hormones to help maintain the pregnancy. Unfortunately these hormones cause the cells to be resistant to insulin. During the second and third trimesters as the placenta grows and becomes larger it secrets even more of the hormones. This makes it even more difficult for the insulin to function and sometimes requires help.
The symptoms of diabetes vary depending on how high your blood glucose levels are and some people with prediabetes or type 2 don’t notice any symptoms. However, in type 1 DM the symptoms usually come on suddenly and tend to be more severe. Some of the more common symptoms that are seen with all types of DM are increased thirst, frequent urination, fatigue, blurry vision and slow healing sores.
Treatment of diabetes depends on the type of diabetes you have been diagnosed with. There are numerous new treatments available today and it’s important if you suspect you may have any type of DM that you contact your Dr immediately. There are numerous complications related to DM, many are serious and can lead to coma and even death if left untreated.
Kimberly Allen is a registered nurse with an AND in nursing. She has worked in ACF, LCF and psychiatric facilities, although she spent most of her career as a home health expert. She is now a regular contributor to HealthAndFitnessTalk.com, dispensing advice and knowledge about medical issues and questions. You can reach her with any comments or questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.