Diabetes mellitus occurs when you have a problem with your pancreas which is the organ that controls your blood glucose. It either stops manufacturing insulin or does not produce enough amounts that satisfy your body’s needs. This deficiency of insulin results in poor absorption of glucose by your body’s cells, which use it for energy production, as well as by your liver, which stores it. The final result of this poor absorption is a high blood sugar or glucose level.
There are two main forms of diabetes mellitus. They are Type I (also called juvenile onset or insulin-dependent) diabetes and Type II (also known as maturity onset or insulin-independent) diabetes.
In Type I (insulin-dependent) diabetes; which usually affects young people, the pancreas produces very little or no insulin. The defect is caused by damage to the insulin-producing cells. Your body, unable to use glucose because of the lack of insulin, is forced to obtain energy from fat instead. This can lead to a dangerous condition called diabetic coma.
In Type II (insulin-independent) diabetes; which attacks people commonly around their forties, the cells which produce insulin are still functioning, but the amount of insulin is insufficient for your body’s needs. Patients who suffer from this type of the disorder usually eat too much and are overweight. Their over-eating causes an excess of glucose in their blood, and the pancreas cannot produce enough insulin to cope with it. Genetics and hereditary factors are key players in this type. In one third of cases, there is always a family member or members suffering from the disorder. Another factor is your age, because the function of your pancreas is reduced as a part of the normal aging process.
All forms of diabetes cause the same main symptoms. You urinate much more than usual, sometimes as often as every hour or so, throughout the day and night. You may notice white spots, which consist of dried splashes of glucose filled urine, on your underwear or shoes. Microorganisms are attracted to the sugary urine and these can cause various complications, such as bladder infections. The excessive loss of fluid can make you perpetually thirsty, and drinking sweetened beverages increases the amount of urination and makes your thirst worse. Your cells do not get enough glucose, so you feel extremely tired, weak, and apathetic; so much so that you may be unable to get up in the morning.
If you are diabetic or the father/mother of a diabetic child, you might notice excess loss of weight. This is explained by the inability of the body to use glucose as a source of energy and instead your body starts burning your fat and muscle. Other symptoms that you may experience include tingling in the hands and feet, decreased immunity (small abscesses and burning urination due to infection may be the first symptoms of diabetes. ), blurred vision due to excess glucose in the fluid of the eye, and loss of erection in men or the absence of monthly periods in women.
The symptoms of Type I (insulin dependent) diabetes usually develop rapidly, within weeks or months. Those of the Type II (insulin independent) form often do not appear until many years after the actual onset of the disease. Sometimes the disorder is detected by chance at a routine medical examination, before any symptoms appear.