Diabetes is formally known as “Diabetes mellitus”, is a group of metabolic diseases an individual can have where their blood sugar level is high either due to the pancreas not producing enough insulin, or because there is no response from the cells to the insulin that is produced.  The increased blood sugar level produces the typical symptoms: polydipsia (increased thirst), polyphagia (increased hunger) and polyuria (frequent urination).

Since 1921, every form of diabetes has been treatable due to insulin being made available.  Medications can also help control Type 2 diabetes.  Hypoglycemia (low blood sugars) which can be detrimental to one’s health in severe cases can be caused by some oral medications as well as insulin.  There is no cure for types 1 and 2 diabetes; they are characterized as chronic conditions.  There has been a small success rate with Pancreas transplants for type 1 DM.  Gastric bypass surgery has been proven successful for those with type 2 DM who suffer from morbid obesity.  Gestational diabetes, in most cases, will resolve after delivery.

Diabetes mellitus (DM) exists in 3 different forms:

  • Type 1 DM is caused by the failure of the body to produce insulin which results in the person having to either wear an insulin pump or inject insulin. This type has been referred to as “juvenile diabetes” or “insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus” (IDDM).
  • Type 2 DM is caused by a condition called insulin resistance, where cells do not succeed at using insulin correctly.  This can occur in combination with a finite insulin deficiency. This type was once called “adult-onset diabetes” or non insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM).
  • The third type is called gestational diabetes which can happen during pregnancy when a woman who has no prior diagnosis of diabetes develops a high blood glucose level.  Type 2 DM may follow gestational diabetes.

There are several other types of diabetes mellitus including: cystic fibrosis-related diabetes, steroid diabetes caused by large doses of glucocorticoids, congenital diabetes resulting from genetic defects of insulin secretion, and various forms of monogenic diabetes.

If diabetes goes untreated different complications may occur.  Complications considered to be acute are:  nonketotic hyperosmolar coma and diabetic ketoacidosis.  The most severe complications that are long-term are: chronic renal failure, diabetic retinopathy (retinal damage) and cardiovascular disease. Diabetes is a serious condition that needs to be treated properly.  Those with diabetes must maintain a healthy lifestyle including body weight, not smoking and controlling their blood pressure.