What is Diabetes Mellitus?

Diabetes Mellitus is a chronic medical condition that occurs due to the body’s inability to produce insulin, which in turn affects your body’s capacity to use the energy received from food.

It is important that you understand your body when you are diagnosed with any of the above types of diabetes. With diabetes, your pancreas fails to produce enough insulin or in some cases there is an absolute absence of insulin, which acts on the food to convert the glucose into energy. Now, with little to no insulin present in body the sugar present in the food does not get processed and hence starts damaging the organs. As the sugar is not converting into energy, you may feel tired, drowsy and fatigued too often.

What are the Types of Diabetes?

Diabetes can be of three types:

  • Type 1 Diabetes: This type of diabetes is typically common in juvenile cases. In this condition pancreas produces less or no insulin. While the exact cause cannot be found, this type occurs when a person’s immune system starts destroying the beta cells, which are present in the pancreas and which are responsible for producing insulin.
  • Type 2 Diabetes: Type 2 diabetes is more commonly found in elderly patients and is also called Adult Onset Diabetes. This type of diabetes occurs when body shows resistance towards the insulin produced and thus is unable to process the sugar from the food.
  • Gestational Diabetes: This type of diabetes may occur in women during pregnancy. It is also said that women who are diagnosed with gestational diabetes may later develop Type 2 diabetes.

How common is Diabetes in India?

According to a report published in a leading daily, 69.2 million Indian adult population has Diabetes, which sums to 7.3% of the total population. Another alarming fact stated in the report is that 10.3% of Indians are at the verge of diabetes with symptoms of Pre-Diabetes. 47.3% people with diabetes are undiagnosed.

What are the symptoms of Diabetes?

Did you know that out of 70 million diabetes cases in India, 47.3% remain undiagnosed? The problem with this life long condition is that its warning signs are difficult to notice. However, here are few common symptoms you can watch for diabetes:

  • Frequent urination
  • Excessive hunger
  • Excessive thirst
  • Weight gain or weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Blurred vision
  • Slow healing of wounds

Sometimes symptoms may differ in men and women. While women can experience urinary tract infections, yeast infections along with itchiness and dryness, men can undergo reduced sexual drive leading to erectile dysfunction and reduced strength.

What are the causes of Diabetes?

There is no exact cause that may be behind your diabetes as it varies from individual to individual and also as per the type. However, the following broad range common causes can be listed as:

  • Insulin insensitivity: This normally happens due to factors like obesity, which can hamper the productivity of insulin in body, which means the body must be producing insulin, but is showing resistance towards it.
  • Impaired Beta cells: If the insulin producing beta cells in the pancreas get impaired, the production of insulin gets affected. It may also lead to zero production of insulin in the body.
  • Genetic influence: Diabetes can be carried through genes, however no particular marker can be identified

Who is at a higher risk?

Often known as a lifestyle disorder, diabetes is most commonly found in people who have obesity, who lead a sedentary lifestyle, who may have chronic diseases like Cirrhosis or Haemochromatosis, and who may have been on medications like Glucocorticoids, Diuretics, etc.

What are the complications?

If diabetes is not treated on time or not managed appropriately, it may lead to some severe complications. Below listed are some common complications that are result of excessive sugar levels in the blood:

  • Kidney disease
  • Heart disease
  • Blindness
  • Sexual Dysfunction
  • Peripheral Neuropathy
  • Retinopathy
  • Infections

What laboratory examinations are conducted for Diabetes?

Your doctor will suggest you the following laboratory investigation to understand your diabetes properly:

  • Urine Examination
  • Blood Examination
  • Glucose level
  • Serum Fructosamine test

What is the treatment for Diabetes?

Initial treatment starts with diet and exercise. Exercise can help in strengthening insulin function in the body and also improve the lipid abnormalities like maintaining cholesterol levels. The treatment or management of diabetes involves the following:

  • Nutrition: Diet planning
  • Exercise: Weight reduction
  • Education: Patients and family involvement
  • Drugs: Oral medicines, injections or pumps
  • Self-Monitoring: Regular monitoring by patient herself

What lifestyle changes are required?

Certain lifestyle changes can help in managing Diabetes and living  along, healthy life:

  • Stay active: Opposite to living a sedentary lifestyle, an active lifestyle helps in attaining a healthier body and balancing sugar levels.
  • Eat healthy: Include a lot of fiber in your diet like salads, green vegetables especially bottle gourd, ridge-gourd, tomatoes, cabbage, etc.
  • Avoid junk: Junk food like chaats and deep fried stuff can easily trigger the sugar levels, hence it’s best to avoid them as far as possible.
  • Include exercise in routine: It’s a good idea to include some exercise in your daily routine. It helps in lowering glucose levels and maintaining a good regime for yourself.
  • Do no stress: Stress increases glucose levels in body, hence try to avoid stress. Rather indulge in some activity you like to distract in times of stress. Try yoga.
  • Maintain hygiene: By maintaining hygiene you can reduce the risk of infections that are common with diabetes.
  • Do not drink or smoke: Drinking and smoking have direct impacts on your glucose levels and can play a hindrance when it comes to managing your diabetes. Moreover, with drinking and smoking, your chances to acquire other health hazards increase such as heart problems, kidney disease, eye disease, stroke, etc.

How to take care of someone with Diabetes?

If you are taking care of yourself, your parents or someone in family with diabetes, here are a few things you can take care of:

  • Remind them to take medicines or injections on time
  • Give them a healthy diet which is sugar friendly
  • Ask them or take them for brisk walks
  • Take them for regular routine check-ups
  • Make sure they wear proper footwear as foot care is utmost important to avoid infections from injuries
  • For reminders you can install Diabetes applications
  • Make sure you have glucose, sugar and biscuits handy in case of low sugar episodes
  • Encourage them to have an active lifestyle
  • Let them indulge in savory once in a while

Study: Can gut microbiota help control Diabetes?

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