What Is Diabetes Mellitus?

Diabetes mellitus, commonly referred to as diabetes, encompasses a group of conditions that affect how your body processes food to generate energy.

When you consume carbohydrates, your body converts them into a sugar called glucose, which is released into your bloodstream. To facilitate the transfer of glucose from your blood into your cells for energy production, your pancreas secretes a hormone called insulin.

In cases of untreated diabetes, your body's use of insulin becomes compromised. This results in an accumulation of excess glucose in your blood, a condition known as high blood sugar. High blood sugar can lead to severe and potentially life-threatening health issues.

Currently, there is no known cure for diabetes. However, through appropriate treatment and lifestyle adjustments, individuals can lead long and healthy lives while managing the condition.

Diabetes exists in various forms, depending on its underlying causes.

1. Prediabetes:

Prediabetes is characterized by elevated blood sugar levels that are above normal but not yet high enough for a diabetes diagnosis by a healthcare professional. It is estimated that more than one-third of the population in the United States has prediabetes, often without awareness of the condition.

Prediabetes increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Engaging in regular physical activity and shedding excess weight, even a modest 5% to 7% of body weight, can reduce these risks.

2. Type 1 Diabetes:

Type 1 diabetes, also known as insulin-dependent diabetes, was previously referred to as juvenile-onset diabetes because it frequently manifests in childhood.

This form of diabetes is an autoimmune disorder where the body's own immune system attacks the pancreas, resulting in damage and an inability to produce insulin. The condition may be influenced by genetic factors or issues with the pancreas's insulin-producing cells.

Individuals with type 1 diabetes are at a higher risk of complications such as diabetic retinopathy (damage to tiny blood vessels in the eyes), diabetic neuropathy (nerve damage), diabetic nephropathy (kidney damage), as well as an increased risk of heart disease and stroke.

The primary treatment for type 1 diabetes involves the administration of insulin through various methods, including syringes, insulin pens, jet injectors, or insulin pumps. The A1C blood test is employed to gauge blood sugar control over the past three months, helping healthcare providers assess the risk of complications.

For those with type 1 diabetes, necessary adjustments include frequent monitoring of blood sugar levels, careful meal planning, daily physical activity, and the administration of insulin and other prescribed medications.