Understanding Diabetes: Causes, Symptoms, and Care

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Do you always have to say ‘no’ to sweet and sugary treats even if you have been wanting to eat them badly because you have – or almost having – diabetes? We know how difficult life becomes when a person gets diabetes.

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes mellitus (DM) includes all disorders of metabolism that result in an increased blood glucose or hyperglycemia. These metabolic disorders have different causes, such as genetics, environmental factors and even lifestyle, but the central problem that results to hyperglycemia is linked to short term and long term complications in different organ systems of the body.

Diabetes is known to have been the most common cause of severe kidney disease states (chronic kidney disease), leg amputation due to gangrene, and loss of vision.

Major Categories of Diabetes

There are two major categories of DM and they are designated as type 1 and type 2.

Type 1 DM, is a consequence of an immune system mediated destruction of the beta cells of the pancreas, which frequently direct to insulin deficiency. Common symptoms of type1 DM are frequent urination, increased frequency of thirst, and apparent loss of weight. This category consists of about 10% of all DM cases and exogenous insulin administration is necessary to control blood glucose levels. Severe states of uncontrolled blood glucose leads to medical emergency called, diabetic acidosis.

Type 2 DM consists of the 90% reported cases of diabetes. This is typified by varying levels of insulin resistance and relative insulin deficiency. Most people with type 2 DM are adults of at least 40 years of age, are obese, and may even show normal insulin secretion. As compared to type 1 DM, type 2 DM does not usually present with weight loss. However, frequent urination and thirst may be present.

Symptoms of Diabetes

How can one be diagnosed of diabetes mellitus? One can be diagnosed with DM by note of symptoms and by blood glucose determination. Common symptoms include:
increased frequency of urination
increased frequency of thirst
unexplained weight loss

Blood glucose tests are the Random Plasma Glucose, the Fasting Plasma Glucose, and the Two-Hour Post-load Glucose.

Care for Patients with Diabetes

Once diagnosed with DM, it is of utmost importance to stress to a person with diabetes that this involves long term management and lifestyle modification. The goals in treating people with DM are: To lessen if not eliminate the symptoms to control of blood sugar levels and to prevent the short and long term effects of DM. With these goals, a comprehensive plan must be addressed and should cater to each individual. Regular monitoring of blood sugar must be accomplished.

Education on DM and its long term complications must be reinforced by physicians and health staff. Lifestyle modification includes restriction of calories in the diet and regular exercise.

Lastly, compliance to medications for treating DM (which includes insulin and oral medications) is vital especially if properly integrated to the comprehensive treatment plan.

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