I am writing this article because some of my close ones are suffering from it. I will write three articles on diabetes. This article is about what exactly is diabetes. The next articles will be about diagnosis, treatment and management of diabetes. Currently over 300 million people in world are suffering from diabetes, in which half of them do not even know about it.  This figure is expected to be double by 2030.


So, lets start! What is diabetes? Diabetes is a condition that prevents the body from properly using energy from food. It occurs when the pancreas does not produce insulin, or when the pancreas produces insulin, but it is resisted by the body.

When we eat food, it is broken down in glucose or sugar. Even though many health experts harp on not having too much sugar in the diet, you do need some glucose to help regulate your metabolism and give you energy. During digestion, glucose moves through the body through the bloodstream to feed your cells. To be able to transfer the blood sugar into the cells, your body needs insulin, which is made by the pancreas  and released into the bloodstream. The problem happens when you have too much blood sugar in your body compared to the amount of insulin your pancreas is providing. If you’re body is not making enough insulin to keep up with the amount of sugar in your bloodstream, or if your body is having trouble making insulin, the glucose in the blood remains there and causes your blood sugar levels to elevate. If it continues, even after monitoring your diet, you will develop diabetes. Diabetes can damage many organs including tissue of kidneys, eyes, peripheral nerves, vascular tree, eyes (causing blindness) and be the cause of loss of limbs in the lower extremities due to poor circulation.

Diabetes was one of the first diseases described, with an Egyptian manuscript from 1500 BC mentioning “too great emptying of the urine”. The first described cases are believed to be of type 1 diabetes. Indian physicians around the same time identified the disease and classified it asmadhumeha or “honey urine”, noting the urine would attract ants.The term “diabetes” or “to pass through” was first used in 230 BC by the Greek Apollonius of Memphis.

There are three types of diabetes:

Type 1 diabetes  results from the body’s failure to produce insulin, and currently requires the person to inject insulin or wear an insulin pump. This form was previously referred to as “insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus” (IDDM) or “juvenile diabetes”. Some scientists believe that Type 1 diabetes is a genetic condition where the cells of the pancreas are attacked and then stop functioning. Others feel the disease may be caused by a virus that prompt the immune system to begin attacking the pancreas.

Taking insulin as a treatment for Type 1 diabetes is just part of the solution to this disorder. If one of the glands or organs is still stressed due to overworking or not getting what it needs, daily insulin levels will fluctuate, making it harder to control Type 1 diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes results from insulin resistance, a condition in which cells fail to use insulin properly, sometimes combined with an absolute insulin deficiency. This form was previously referred to as non insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM) or “adult-onset diabetes”. It is  is normally found in people who are overweight as they get older. It  is sometimes considered a lifestyle disease because it is normally triggered by living a fairly sedentary life, being overweight and not participating in exercise. However, age is a factor as well as heredity. If a parent or sibling develops Type 2 diabetes later in life, a person has greater chances to getting Type 2 diabetes as well.

The third main form, gestational diabetes, occurs when pregnant women without a previous diagnosis of diabetes develop a high blood glucose level. It may precede development of type 2 diabetes. The gestational diabetes will disappear after the baby is born. When a woman has an occurrence of gestational diabetes during pregnancy, she is more likely to have it again in the next pregnancy.  The older a woman is when she is pregnant, the higher the risk of developing gestational diabetes during pregnancy.

After diabetes diagnosis, many type 1 and type 2 diabetics worry about their life expectancy. Death is never a pleasant subject but it’s human nature to want to know ‘how long can I expect to live’. There is no hard and fast answer to the question of ‘how long can I expect to live’ as a number of factors influence one’s life expectancy.

Some surveys are done on the life expectancy of a diabetic patient, and here is one good news, there is no difference between average life expectancy of a non-diabetic patient and a diabetic patient. It is 85-90 for women and 80-85 for men (this is average). Patients who living in 3 tier cities, towns and villages have better life expectancy than people living in tier 1 and tier 2 cities.

Diabetes is not contagious in nature. You wont get diabetes if you ate too much sweets. Diabetes do not happen because of obesity but the risk is high for type 2 diabetes.

And at last, you should know that even animals gets diabetes. In animals, diabetes is most commonly encountered in dogs and cats. Middle-aged animals are most commonly affected. Female dogs are twice as likely to be affected as males, while according to some sources, male cats are also more prone than females.

Related links
Diabetes diagnosis and treatment
Diabetes management


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