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Beware of diabetes mellitus

By Vision Reporter

Added 31st May 2005 03:00 AM

Diabetes mellitus is a disease caused when the pancreas does not produce sufficient insulin. It is also caused when cells fail to respond to insulin produced, resulting in high levels of glucose in the blood (hyperglycemia).
Insulin is a hormone that helps to convert glucose (sugar) into energy

Diabetes mellitus is a disease caused when the pancreas does not produce sufficient insulin. It is also caused when cells fail to respond to insulin produced, resulting in high levels of glucose in the blood (hyperglycemia).
Insulin is a hormone that helps to convert glucose (sugar) into energy

By Dr Herbert Mugarura

Diabetes mellitus is a disease caused when the pancreas does not produce sufficient insulin. It is also caused when cells fail to respond to insulin produced, resulting in high levels of glucose in the blood (hyperglycemia).
Insulin is a hormone that helps to convert glucose (sugar) into energy.
When the blood sugar levels are high, the body draws water from the cells to dilute the blood and excretes it in urine. This explains why people with undiagnosed diabetes constantly feel thirsty, want to drink large quantities of water, and urinate frequently to get rid of the extra glucose.
Consequently, the cells are starved for glucose and are dehydrated. The body responds by trying to convert fats and proteins to glucose for energy and this results in loss of body weight. The breakdown of fats and proteins also causes acid compounds called ketones to form in the blood. These are later excreted in urine. When the ketone bodies build up in blood, a condition called ketoacidosis can occur and it can lead to coma and death.
There are two types of diabetes; type I, sometimes called juvenile diabetes, begins mostly in childhood or adolescence where the body produces little or no insulin. It is also called insulin-dependent diabetes because people who develop it need daily injections of insulin.
Brittle diabetics are a subgroup of Type I where patients have frequent and rapid swings of blood sugar levels between hyperglycemia (too much glucose or sugar in the blood) and hypoglycemia (abnormally low levels of glucose in the blood).
The second type; Type II is the age-onset or adult-onset diabetes, or non insulin-dependent diabetes. It mostly occurs in people who are overweight and lack exercise.
It is a slow onset milder form of diabetes and can be controlled with diet and oral medication. Insulin injections may be required only when these have failed.
This form of diabetes can develop during the second or third trimester of pregnancy but usually resolves after delivery. This can be managed with diet and rarely needs insulin injections. These women are at higher risk of developing Type II diabetes within 5-10 years.

Causes
Pancreatic disease, alcoholism, malnutrition, or any severe illnesses that stresses the body.
Others include old age, obesity, previous gestational diabetes or if you have ever delivered a baby weighing more than 4.5 kgs, high blood pressure and high density lipoprotein cholesterol in blood.
Ketoacidosis symptoms include abdominal pain, vomiting, rapid breathing, extreme tiredness, drowsiness and a sweet breath odour.

Symptoms
Early signs may be gradual and include tiredness, extreme thirst, hunger and frequent urination. Sudden weight loss, slow wound healing, urinary tract infections, gum disease or blurred vision, numbness and feeling hot in the lower limbs and feet are others.
Impotence is a common male symptom with gradual loss of firm erection. Elderly men tend to experience muscle weakness around the hip and upper leg. Women may experience genital itching.
For this type of diabetes, the condition may not become evident until the patient presents some other condition for medical treatment.

Seriousness
Diabetes mellitus is a chronic disease which causes serious health complications including renal (kidney) failure, heart disease, stroke, and blindness. Uncontrolled diabetes is a leading cause of blindness, end-stage renal disease and limb amputations. It also doubles the risks of heart disease and stroke. Eye problems including cataracts, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy are common in diabetics. Long-term complications may affect the kidney and may lead to kidney failure requiring dialysis or kidney transplant.
Nerve endings, particularly in the legs and feet may become less sensitive (Diabetic peripheral neuropathy). Foot ulcers, blisters and lumps, result from poor blood circulation in the legs and feet. They becoming difficult to treat and may begin to break down and rot away calling for amputation of toes, feet or legs.

Tests
Urine and blood tests can be used to confirm diabetes based on the amount of glucose in them. Urine tests can also detect ketones and protein in the urine, which may help diagnose diabetes and assess how well the kidneys are functioning.

Treatment
There is currently no cure for diabetes. The treatment includes changes in diet, oral medications, and, in some cases, daily injections of insulin. Careful monitoring of diet, exercise, and blood glucose levels are very important.
Herbal medication may also be helpful in managing diabetes type 11, though there is no herbal substitute for insulin.

Prevention
Maintaining ideal weight and exercising regularly can reduce the risk. The stress of surgery, illness, pregnancy, and alcoholism can increase the risks of diabetes. So maintaining a healthy lifestyle is critical to preventing the onset of Type II diabetes and preventing further complications of the disease.

The writer can be contacted on mugarrajk@doctor.com
or 077444526


Beware of diabetes mellitus

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