What is diabetes?
Diabetes mellitus (DM) or simply diabetes belongs to the group of metabolic diseases and results from the inability to regulate blood sugar levels. Having too much glucose in the blood can damage the kidneys, eyes, nerves and other parts of the body, including blood vessels. In extreme cases, diabetes can cause heart disease and stroke, and patients may even need to have limbs amputated.
This inability to control blood sugar is due to a problem with the hormone insulin, produced by the pancreas, which enters the bloodstream and moves glucose out of the blood into the cells, where it is used to generate energy.
There are two types of diabetes:
- Type 1 diabetes: the cells that create insulin are attacked and destroyed by the body’s immune system as part of a faulty immune response. It can develop rapidly in a couple of weeks or even days.
- Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body does not produce enough insulin or when the body’s cells stop responding. Patients may go undiagnosed for years due to generic symptoms. It is by far the most common type of diabetes.
Diabetes is a disease characterized by a significant increase in blood glucose levels.
There is also childhood diabetes.
What are the symptoms of diabetes?
Typical symptoms of diabetes are
- Frequent urination
- Itching in the genital area or candidiasis
- Weight loss / muscle loss
- Blurred vision
- Slow healing process
What are the causes of diabetes?
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease-something causes the immune system to attack healthy pancreatic cells that produce insulin. It usually runs in families, so there may be a genetic influence. No one knows exactly what causes the immune system to attack the pancreas, but there is a theory that it is triggered by a virus.
Type 2 diabetes is acquired and usually affects older people. It is often associated with obesity and lack of exercise.
How can diabetes be prevented?
Type 1 diabetes has a genetic component, so there is no way to prevent it.
To reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes it is important to eat a healthy and balanced diet, get plenty of exercise and lose weight if you are overweight or obese. Quitting smoking and drinking alcohol in moderation are also useful tips.
What is the treatment for diabetes?
Diabetes cannot be cured, but its symptoms can be controlled. A healthy diet, daily exercise and frequent blood tests are essential to keep blood glucose levels under control.
Patients with type 1 diabetes need daily insulin injections for the rest of their lives to compensate for the lack of insulin production by the pancreas.
Patients with type 2 diabetes may need to take medication, as the condition is progressive (it will worsen over time).
It is important to treat diabetes correctly to avoid complications such as diabetic foot, diabetic neuropathy, diabetic retinopathy, diabetic nephropathy. Likewise, foot ulcers must be taken care of because if they become complicated they can lead to amputation (see microsurgery and limb reimplantation).
If you show symptoms you should consult your physician or a specialist as soon as possible. If you are diagnosed with diabetes, a patient is usually referred to a specialized care team for treatment and follow-up throughout the condition.