Understanding Diabetes Mellitus

Diabetes mellitus, or simply diabetes, is a metabolic condition that is characterised by high blood sugar levels. This is caused by a lack or ineffective use of a hormone known as insulin. This hormone transports sugar to your cells from the blood stream where it is stored for energy production. When there is not enough insulin or your body does not use it effectively, the sugar remains in the blood. If untreated, diabetes can cause damage to your eyes, kidneys, nerves and other organs.

There are different types of diabetes mellitus, such as:

Type 1 diabetes: This is an autoimmune condition where your immune system attacks the pancreatic cells that make insulin, resulting in decreased insulin production.

Type 2 diabetes: This condition occurs when your body becomes resistant to insulin, causing sugar levels in your blood to go up.

Gestational diabetes: This is seen in pregnant women. Their placentas produce insulin-blocking hormones which cause high blood sugar levels.

Diabetes insipid us: This is unrelated to diabetes mellitus and a much rarer condition. It is caused by overworking kidneys which remove too much fluid from your body.

What are the symptoms of Diabetes?

Most symptoms are common to the different types of diabetes mellitus. They are:

  • Increased hunger and thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Weight loss
  • Blurry vision
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Delayed healing of wounds and sores
  • In initial stages diabetes often goes unnoticed as there are no symptoms.

What causes diabetes mellitus?

Doctors are uncertain regarding the cause of type 1 diabetes, mainly because it is an autoimmune condition. With type 2 diabetes, the most common factors are genetics and lifestyle. It is a hereditary condition, which means that you have a high chance of being diabetic if your parents have the disease. Being obese and overweight and leading a physically inactive lifestyle can greatly increase your chances of developing diabetes.


Type 1 diabetes is generally treated with insulin. Type 2 diabetes can be managed through regular physical exercise and following a low-sugar diet. If lifestyle changes are not enough to bring down your blood sugar levels, your doctor will prescribe medication to manage diabetes.

It is important to keep your blood sugars under control to prevent long term damage to your kidneys, eyes, nerves, heart and other organs.

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