Diabetes Mellitus is the scientific name for what most people call diabetes
If you are interested in the form of diabetes which is characterised by excessive dilute urine production, see the diabetes insipidus.
Diabetes mellitus is often just referred to as diabetes, and is characterised by the body’s inability to lower blood glucose levels. As blood glucose levels rise in the body, a hormone called insulin should take over, and cause the excess glucose to be taken up by the muscles and liver (and stored as glycogen). However, in diabetics, this doesn’t happen.
Causes of diabetes mellitus
The causes of diabetes can be genetic and/or environmental.
If insulin levels are too low to bring about the reduction in blood glucose levels, and this leads to Type 1 Diabetes. This type of diabetes usually occurs in children and young adults, and requires treatment. It use to be called “insulin-dependent diabetes” or “juvenile-onset diabetes”. Scientists think that nutritional or possibly viral factors can cause the immune system to destroy the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas.
The other cause of diabetes mellitus is the body’s inability to respond to the insulin in the blood which gives rise to Type 2 diabetes. This type is more common, and usually develops in adults of 30 years old and over. One of the factors contributing to the rise in type 2 diabetes in modern society is obesity, since obesity causes insulin resistance. Another common cause of type 2 diabetes is during pregnancy when a women may develop gestational diabetes. Type 2 diabetes used to be called “non-insulin-dependent diabetes” or “adult-onset diabetes”.
Symptoms of Diabetes mellitus
Diabetes causes hyperglycemia, and this leads to:
- excessive sweet urine production
- increased thirst
- blurred vision
- weight loss (because excess calories in the form of sugar are being lost in the urine).
- tirednessNote that the first two symptoms are similar to diabetes insipidus, but in that case, the urine does not contain sugar.
Complications resulting from diabetes mellitus
If left untreated, diabetes can cause blindness, kidney failure and nerve damage. Diabetes can also cause cardiovascular problems because of the damage that it can cause to small blood vessels. Strokes, hardening and narrowing of the arteries and coronary heart disease are an increased risk.
Treatment of Diabetes mellitus
Type 1 diabetes is treated with insulin injections. Since the cause of the disease is low natural insulin levels, injecting insulin can raise levels to normal, so that blood sugar levels can be lowered.
Type 2 diabetes is treated with a combination of diet and tablets.