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Diabetes is short for diabetes mellitus and is one of the common chronic diseases. Generally, a chronic disease is a health condition with long term effects on affected individuals. According to Ekoé, Rewers, Williams and Zimmet (2008), the major effects of diabetes include long term damage, dysfunction, and failure of various body organs.
Other chronic diseases include cancer, arthritis, asthma, and obesity. In a definition by the World Health Organization, diabetes is a state of chronic hyperglycemia resulting from many environmental and genetic factors often acting together. According to Mandal (2014) diabetes is a health condition where the body encounters difficulties as far as the utilization of ingested glucose is concerned. It is usually associated with excessive blood sugar levels.
In order to understand diabetes, it is first necessary to know how the body operates to generate energy (Beaser, 2008). Ordinarily, food that is eaten by human beings is usually turned to glucose so as to be used by our bodies to produce energy.
To ensure that glucose eventually gets into our body cells, an organ in the body referred to as pancreas produces insulin. For a diabetic person, the amount of insulin produced is either not enough or the body can not effectively utilize the insulin produced. As a consequence, the amount of sugar in the blood is made to rise and this cause discomfort for the affected individuals.
There are two common types of diabetes referred to as type 1 and type 2 respectively. Type 1 is due to insufficient insulin while type 2 results from inappropriate use of the insulin produced. Although not very common, gestational, neonatal, and maturity onset are other forms of diabetes. Gestational affects women during pregnancy while neonatal interferes with the production of insulin. Maturity onset diabetes of the young is a condition that affects young children.
Prevalence of Diabetes
Drawing from a study by DRI (2014), the global incident rate of diabetes is quite high and the number of those getting affected by the condition is constantly increasing. Over the last ten years, the number of people suffering from diabetes in the United States reportedly grew by 40 percent.
Presently, it is estimated that 26 million Americans are diabetic (DRI, 2014). Globally, the number of people suffering from diabetes is approximately, 382 millions. The World Health Organization hypothesizes that the number will be more than double by the year 2030.
Symptoms of Diabetes
Among the symptoms of diabetes mellitus are impaired vision and weight loss. Affected individuals also pass urine quite often especially at night. They also experience extreme tiredness and slow healing of cuts or wounds on the body. Moreover, symptoms of type 1 diabetes tend to be obvious and the condition develops very fast. Unlike diabetes type 2, type 1 diabetes can easily be controlled once detected. On the contrary, the symptoms of type 2 diabetes are difficult to detect since the condition takes time to develop.
Apparently, type 2 diabetes can only be noticed through a medical check up. This type of diabetes is also easy to treat once spotted. In children, diabetes presents itself with severe symptoms including high levels of glucose in the blood, as well as marked glycosuria and ketonuria. For most children, the diagnosis is confirmed without delay by blood glucose measurements and treatment, which includes the injection of insulin, can be initiated at immediately.
Drawing from a study by Ekoé, Rewers, Williams and Zimmet (2008), the usual clinical symptoms of diabetes, polyuria and polydipsia, are the direct result of a high concentration of glucose in the blood. Weight loss in spite of polyphagia, ketoacidosis, visual changes, skin infections, sepsis and pruritus belong to the same list of symptoms.
The symptoms are, however, absent in the case of mild hyperglycemia. Ostensibly, the frequency of most symptoms is quite different in previously undiscovered diabetes as contrasted with people with diabetes who have been under treatment for months or years. Other factors such as the intensity of treatment, degree of acceptance of recommended therapy and age of onset, do affect the frequency of the different symptoms.
Certainly, the treatment of diabetes starts with the discovery of the condition in one’s body. Once the symptoms have been discovered, treatment should follow immediately to control the disease. Until recent times, people with diabetes could only use diet, exercise, or weight control for treatment. In addition, patients mainly depended on doctors and nurses to determine whether they are diabetic. The discovery of insulin in 1921 and technological advancements changed the diagnosis and treatment approaches completely (Beaser, 2008).
Advancements in technology made it possible for any person with diabetes to check the level of glucose in his or her blood without having to seek the help of a doctor or nurse. An important consideration of the treatment process is that every patient should actively be involved in the management of his or her diabetic condition.
According to Beaser (2008), diabetes should be treated for two reasons. The first reason is so that one can feel better and gain relief from immediate and uncomfortable symptoms caused by high levels of glucose in the blood. Secondly, treatment is important for preventing or minimizing the long term complications that can result if the blood glucose remains high for a long time.
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In treating diabetes, patients may be required to control the glucose level in their blood through lifestyle changes. This includes changing the type of food as well as eating habits. Patients are also expected to be physically active. With time, however, the treatment combines lifestyle changes, diabetic pills and insulin injection. In general, the treatment cycle for a diabetic person involves four basic approaches. First, it is necessary for patients to plan their food and meals well.
This helps to ensure that what is eaten is well balanced and that the body gets appropriate nutrients. The second approach involves regular physical activity. Physical exercise is important regardless of whether one is diabetic or not. Besides helping patients to feel better, physical exercise preserves and increases the strength of muscles.
It also gives the heart a good workout, maintains a healthy weight, and improves the efficiency of lungs. The third approach involves taking medication which may include the injection of insulin if a person has diabetes type 1. As pointed out earlier, it may be necessary to combine medication with lifestyle strategies. Finally, there is need for self-monitoring. The monitoring process involves checking one’s blood for glucose level and relating this to medication, the type of food eaten, and physical activity.
Apparently, most people who have diabetes are not aware that they have it. Consequently, it is important to have a medical check up to determine the absence or existence of the condition. People are also encouraged to maintain healthy lifestyles. Among other things, this includes having an appropriate weight, good eating habits, regular physical activity, and avoiding alcohol or cigarette smoking. Arguably, this is a reliable approach and one that can be used by people who have a family history of diabetes.
A complete natural program for preventing diabetes includes taking a low carbohydrate diet rich in vegetables, proteins, and healthy fats. It is also helpful to take nutritional supplements from time to time. A good prevention program helps in keeping a tight control of blood sugar levels.
Other Risk Factors and Interesting Facts about Diabetes
Diabetes is considered to be the greatest cause of stroke, blindness, and kidney as well as heart failure (DRI, 2014). As a condition, diabetes does not only affect the patients. It is the source of emotional and financial burden for families of the affected individuals. In the United States, the public has to spend heavily every year to cater for the demands of diabetic people.
Arguably, people with diabetes are at increased risk of cardiovascular and peripheral vascular diseases (Ekoé, Rewers, Williams & Zimmet, 2008). As a result, diabetes is also regarded as a set of abnormalities characterized by a state of sustained hyperglycemia.
Without a doubt, diabetes mellitus is a serious health condition that can lead to prolonged suffering and discomfort for the affected individuals. As such, it is necessary to be aware of the condition and look for the best approach to treat or prevent it. As has been explained, treatment involves changing one’s lifestyle and engaging in activities that promote healthy living.
It also involves taking diabetes pills and self-monitoring. However, rather than wait to become diabetic, it is important to undergo a thorough medical check up and to devise a plan to either prevent or eliminate diabetes.
Beaser, R. S. (2008). The Joslin Guide to Diabetes: A Program for Managing Your Treatment. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster.
Diabetes Research Institute (DRI). (2014). What is Diabetes? Web.
Ekoé, J. M., Rewers, M., Williams, R. & Zimmet, P. (2008). The Epidemiology of Diabetes Mellitus. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.
Mandal, A. (2014). What is Diabetes? Web.