Diabetes mellitus is a disorder characterized by the inability of the body to either produce or respond to insulin making it impossible to maintain proper levels of glucose (sugar) in the blood. The extra glucose is excreted in the urine and because of the high level of glucose more water is flushed through. The diabetic experiences excessive urination and thirst.
The term Diabetes mellitus literally explains these symptoms: The Greek term diabainein, means "to pass through" (referring to the excessive urination) and mellitus comes from the Latin "sweetened with honey" (referring to the excessive presence of sugar).
There are basically two major types of diabetes: Type 1 (insulin-dependent) and Type 2 (non-insulin dependent).
Type 1 (formerly known juvenile-onset diabetes, because it is diagnosed in children or young adults) is caused by both genetic and environmental causes. In this case, the person's immune system produces antibodies that destroy the cells that produce insulin. Because the body can't produce insulin on its own, daily insulin injections are required.
Type 2 (formerly known as adult-onset diabetes, because it normally appears in people aged over 40) is the most common form of diabetes, accounting for about 90% of cases. Genetic factors play a major role in the development of Type 2, but obesity is also a major factor. A typical Western lifestyle means a diet that is high in fat and low in carbohydrates and a minimal exercise plan and these habits are strong risk factors. Interestingly, people who do not live in Westernized areas do not tend to get Type 2 diabetes, regardless of their family history.
A third type of diabetes, known as Gestational Diabetes, affects women who have high blood-sugar levels during pregnancy. This should be monitored as it can adversely affect the baby. There is also a high probably that women who experience gestational diabetes will develop Type 2 diabetes at a later stage.
Diabetes symptoms to watch out for include; frequent urination, excessive thirst and hunger, unusual weight loss, increased fatigue, irritability and blurry vision. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) website is an informative starting point for all. Visit the site today and take the Online Diabetes Risk Test, which can help you determine if you are at risk of developing diabetes. If you are deemed at risk and are experiencing one or more of the above mentioned symptoms you should see your doctor immediately.
If you are diagnosed with diabetes the ADA website has informative articles the disease, plus lots of suggestions on lifestyle and diet changes for those diagnosed with diabetes. A quick Internet search for "Diabetes Supply" will also bring up various sites offering products suitable for those living with diabetes.
There's nothing at all to be scared of. There's lots of help and advice available literally at your fingertips.
Dean Erickson. Journalist, and web site builder Dean Erickson lives in Texas. He is the owner and co-editor of http://www.diabetes-top-resources.info on which you will find a longer, more detailed version of this article.