The definition of diabetes mellitus revolves around the way the body handles sugar. Diabetes mellitus – “often simply referred to as diabetes - is a condition in which a person has a high blood sugar (glucose) level, either because the body doesn't produce enough insulin, or because body cells don't properly respond to the insulin that is produced” (1). There is a long diabetes mellitus history that dates back to 2,000 B.C.
There are 3 main classifications of diabetes mellitus, type 1, type 2 and gestational diabetes. The signs and symptoms of diabetes mellitus are similar among the 3 classifications and can include increased thirst, increased urination, increased hunger, possible weight loss without effort, fatigue, numbness or tingling in the hands and feet, blurred vision and dry or itchy skin.
While the symptoms are similar for the different types of the disease, the causes of diabetes mellitus vary greatly. A diabetes mellitus definition must consider the differing causes or etiology of diabetes mellitus to be complete.
Diabetes mellitus 2, also known as non insulin dependent diabetes mellitus, is the most common type of diabetes and develops most often in people who present with the risk factors which include being overweight and inactive.
Diabetes mellitus type 1, makes up approximately 10% of cases and develops due to an inability of the body to produce sufficient amounts of insulin. There are no known preventative measures to prevent diabetes type 1 and the exact cause has yet to be fully understood.
Gestational diabetes is a condition only seen in pregnant women. It affects approximately 4% of pregnant women and is most common during the third trimester.
Diabetes mellitus and pathophysiology of the disease is focused on insulin which is a hormone. The simple definition of diabetes mellitus spells out the importance of insulin. Insulin is either not produced in adequate quantities or is unable to push sugar into body cells due to resistance from the cells.
Treatments of diabetes mellitus involve controlling blood sugar levels. In type 2 diabetes, blood sugar levels can often be controlled through proper diet, exercise, weight loss with the possible addition of medications. In type 1 diabetes insulin in the form of injection or pump must be administered daily.
If diabetes mellitus is not treated it can lead to serious health problems. Complications of diabetes mellitus can range from mild to life-threatening and can include heart and blood vessel damage, eye disorders, and kidney or nervous system damage.
(1) Wikipedia (2010). Diabetes mellitus. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diabetes_mellitus
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