Diabetes Definition, Symptoms, Treatment & Causes

Refers to diabetes mellitus or, less often, to diabetes insipidus. Diabetes mellitus and diabetes insipidus share the name “diabetes” because they are both conditions characterized by excessive urination (polyuria).

Diabetes mellitus is a chronic health disorder. Chronic means that the condition lasts for many years. Diabetes can cause serious health problems. These problems include kidney failure, heart disease, stroke (see stroke entry), and blindness. About fourteen million Americans have diabetes. As many as half of these people do not know they have the condition.

Diabetes Causes : Drugs such as steroids, Dilantin, and others may elevate the blood sugar through a variety of mechanisms. Certain other drugs, such as alloxan, streptozocin, and thiazide diuretics, are toxic to the beta cells of the pancreas and can cause diabetes. Certain syndromes (for example, Prader-Willi, Down’s, Progeria, and Turner’s) may result in a hyperglycemic state; if this state is prolonged, the result can be permanent diabetes.

Pre-diabetes is a condition where people have blood glucose levels that are higher than normal but not yet high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. Most people who develop type 2 diabetes have pre-diabetes first. Most people who have pre-diabetes are unaware that they have it or that they are at risk of developing diabetes. People with pre-diabetes often develop type 2 diabetes within 10 years. Pre-Diabetes is also called impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) or impaired fasting glucose (IFG).

Diabetes mellitus type 2 is not an autoimmune disease like the type 1. In this type of diabetes mellitus, the body is not attacking itself. Diabetes mellitus type 2 is caused due to malfunctioning of the pancreas, which is incapable of producing the required volume of insulin. The pancreas does produce some insulin, but it is insufficient to meet the total requirements of the body in utilizing glucose.

Diabetes Treatment : The major goal in treating diabetes is to minimize any elevation of blood sugar (glucose) without causing abnormally low levels of blood sugar. Type 1 diabetes is treated with insulin, exercise, and a diabetic diet. Type 2 diabetes is treated first with weight reduction, a diabetic diet, and exercise. When these measures fail to control the elevated blood sugars, oral medications are used. If oral medications are still insufficient, treatment with insulin is considered.

Adherence to a diabetic diet is an important aspect of controlling elevated blood sugar in patients with diabetes. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) has provided guidelines for a diabetic diet. The ADA diet is a balanced, nutritious diet that is low in fat, cholesterol, and simple sugars. Weight reduction and exercise are important treatments for diabetes. Weight reduction and exercise increase the body’s sensitivity to insulin, thus helping to control blood sugar elevations. For more, please read the Weight Loss and Fitness articles.