What is Diabetes Mellitus?
Diabetes mellitus is a heterogeneous clinical disorder with numerous causes. Two main classifications of diabetes mellitus exist, idiopathic and secondary.
Idiopathic diabetes is divided into two main types; insulin dependent and non-insulin-depenedent. Insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, IDDM (Type 1) is defined by the development of ketoacidosis in the absence of insulin therapy.
Type 1 diabetes most often manifests in childhood (hence also called juvenile onset diabetes) and is the result of an autoimmune destruction of the b-cells of the pancreas.
Non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, NIDDM (Type 2) is characterized by persistent hyperglycemia but rarely leads to ketoacidosis.
Type 2 diabetes generally manifests after age 40 and therefore has the obsolete name of adult onset-type diabetes. Type 2 diabetes can result from genetics defects that cause both insulin resistance and insulin deficiency.
There are two main forms of type 2 diabetes:
1. Late onset associated with obesity.
2. Late onset not associated with obesity.
Occasionally, the onset of diabetes - particularly Type 1 - can be abrupt. It can lead to a condition called 'keto acidosis', which is a medical emergency.
The symptoms of this condition are loss of appetite, weight loss, vomiting, excessive passing of urine, altered consciousness and, finally, coma. Seek medical help immediately if these symptoms occur.
Symptoms Of Diabetes Mellitus
Most of the times Diabetes is asymptomatic, however It is very important to diagnose as early as possible to prevent early and late complications of Diabetes. This is only possible, if you have some knowledge about common symptoms of Diabetes Mellitus.
Glucose is an important source of energy for cells of our body.
Glucose enters the cells and metabolized to provide energy.
How does glucose enter in cells? It enters the cells with help of Insulin. Insulin is a hormone produced by Pancreas. Suppose there is no insulin, or insulin production is decreased. Obviously, Glucose level in blood will increase and we will have a condition what we call as Diabetes Mellitus.
There are many symptoms of diabetes but we will focus here on most common symptoms of Diabetes. Here is list of these symptoms.
Fatigue and weakness
Nausea and vomiting
Sudden weight loss or gain
Skin infections like abscess, pimples
Fluid retention (especially in legs and feet)
Poor healing of skin wounds
Decreased tolerance to cold
Increased heart rate
Dry scaly skin
Numbness of fingers and toes
Extreme hunger pangs
Hot and sweaty with clammy perspiration
Heart tremors and palpitations
Apprehensive with no obvious reason
Disoriented, confused, inability to concentrate
Frequent headaches, dizziness
How will we relate these symptoms with Diabetes. Remember, most of symptoms are directly related to higher levels of Glucose in Blood.
Increased Thirst and Urination
Two symptoms that occur in many people with the disease are increased thirst and frequent urination. Increased levels of glucose in blood leads to increase excretion of glucose by the kidneys.
Glucose will take more and more water with it, so a diabetic patient will suffer frequent urination which will in turn lead to increased thirst. To quench your thirst, you drink a lot of water and other beverages, and that leads to more frequent urination.
There is also another condition Diabetes Insipidus, disease of the pituitary gland in brain, where we also see increase thirst and urination trends.
Extreme hunger, fatigue and weight loss:
Fatigue and weight loss are also related with hyperglycemia. Without insulin like Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus, or Decreased Insulin like Type 2 diabetes, Glucose can not enter in cells which is the main source of energy for cells, so cells will lake this energy and the patient will suffer weight loss and fatigue.
Headaches, dizziness, irritability:
Your brain needs a constant supply of energy, if your brain cells don't receive enough energy, we become tired; most tired people tend to be less tolerant and more irritable!
Dry itchy skin:
Normal skin cells require gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) which our body makes via a complex metabolic process. In older people and diabetics, this process is impaired and not enough GLA is produced; this results is chronic, severely dry and itchy skin and condition is aggravated by soaps, hot baths, detergents, environmental conditions; it is usually worse during the winter months and most commonly affects legs, feet, and hands but can affect other areas of the body as well.
Blurred vision Blurred vision:
Diabetes can also affect your eyes as well. Again the cause is High Glucose Levels. High glucose in blood vessels increases the process of atherosclerosis resulting in a thickening of blood vessels.
Chronically high levels of glucose damage blood vessels in different organs of the body, usually starting with the retina of the eye and the kidneys and heart; eventually some blood vessels are lost and remaining ones become leaky which allow blood and fat to seep out of damaged blood vessels. This makes the retina bleed and swell which causes blurred vision.
Over a period of years diabetes can also cause new blood vessels to form in the retina of the eye, as well as damage old vessels. For most people this causes only mild vision problems. But for others, the effects may be much more serious. In some cases, diabetes can also lead to total blindness.
Tingling - burning pain in the feet:
Another important symptom of Diabetes. It may sometimes be the very first symptom of diabetes.
Our hands and feet are supplied by Neurons that due to diabetes blood vessels become thick, similary is the case with neurons, blood supply to these neurons decreases due to thickening of blood vessels which leads to degeneration of peripheral nerve fibers (Neurons) throughout the body which commonly leads to a lack of feeling in the feet, advances up the legs and then the hands and is the most common reason for lower limb amputations. It can also be very painful. If there is Loss of motor nerve fibers it leads to muscular weakness.
A loss of sensory nerve fibers leads to loss of feeling and numbness in hands and feet. Loss of autonomic fibers cause the loss of functions not normally under conscious control like digestion, heartbeat, blood pressure, and sweating. Neuropathy symptoms tingling, burning, aching, prickling, sharp jabs of needle like pain can also be caused by nerves that are damaged or are healing.
Slow healing sores or frequent infections:
Bacteria love high glucose, Diabetes affects your body's ability to heal and fight infection. Urinary track infections and vaginal yeast infections can be a particular problem for women.
Diagnose your diabetes as early as possible to keep yourself away from complex complications of diabetes Mellitus.
See our full article on Diabetes Information Type 1 and Type 2