Diabetes mellitus is a metabolic disease that affects the pancreas. In this, the body is unable to properly process the energy released from the food leading to high sugar levels. When this happens over a period, it causes organ damage and other serious complications. There are no apparent reasons why people get diabetes, but many factors in their genes and lifestyle increase their odds of suffering from this disease. Diabetes mellitus can occur because of two reasons. Either the pancreas does not produce sufficient amount of insulin, a hormone essential for using sugar in the body (Type 1) or because the body develops resistance to the insulin coursing through the system (Type 2). A third kind is known as Gestational Diabetes which occurs when a pregnant woman without a previous history of diabetes develops high sugar levels.
Risk Factors for Diabetes Mellitus
- A family history of diabetes mellitus
- Being overweight
- Stress- physical (surgery or some illness) or mental
- Repeated use of certain medications like steroids or those for blood pressure
- Trauma to pancreas either through injury, infection, tumor or surgery
- High blood pressure
- Very high triglyceride levels
- Alcohol addiction
Symptoms of Diabetes Mellitus
Following are the most common symptoms:
- Increased thirst
- Frequent urination
- Increased hunger
- Unexplained weight change
- Unexplained fatigue
- Tingling or numbness in the feet
- Blurry vision
- Slow healing of injuries-cuts and sores
- Recurrent yeast infections in women
Diabetes mellitus has no cure. It is a chronic disease that can be best managed with keeping the blood sugar levels under control. However, care must be taken that the sugar levels don’t get too low as that is more harmful and can even be fatal.
- Healthy Diet: following a healthy diet that is rich in fresh fruits and vegetables and very low in processed food and junk food is recommended. Eat a lot of fiber and reduce hidden sugar consumption.
- Exercise: This is another important aspect of diabetes management. Even thirty minutes of walk daily goes a long way in keeping the sugar levels in check. Yoga, dancing, swimming, and aerobics are other good alternatives to walking.
- Weight Loss: One must lose weight to keep control over the disease. It also leads to better health of the organs, reduces cholesterol levels and less pressure on the system.
- Feet Care: One of the most vulnerable parts of a diabetics’ body is the feet. Since these receive less blood supply over a period due to degeneration of blood vessels, any injury caused to them takes very long to heal. In most cases, gangrene develops and many times amputation is the only way out. Read here about Diabetes Nerve Damage.
People can live healthy lives with diabetes provided they keep their sugar levels in check. With proper lifestyle and medications, many live long, quality lives.