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Diabetes Mellitus - What Should You Know?

Written and reviewed by
Dr. Prashant K Vaidya 89% (18372 ratings)
Diploma In Gastroenterology, Diploma In Dermatology, BHMS
Homeopathy Doctor, Hyderabad  •  12 years experience
Diabetes Mellitus - What Should You Know?

Definition:

Diabetes mellitus refers to a group of diseases that affect how your body uses blood glucose, commonly called blood sugar. Glucose is vital to your health because it’s an important source of energy for the cells that make up your muscles and tissues. It’s also your brain’s main source of fuel.
If you have diabetes, no matter what type, it means you have too much glucose in your blood, although the reasons may differ. Too much glucose can lead to serious health problems.

Diabetes is a disorder or malfunction of metabolism where the absorbed food especially glucose part is not utilized for energy by the cellular components of the body.

In normal human beings, the food particles are converted into different components for absorption by cells all over the body. Insulin hormone helps the cells to absorb the same from blood stream. The entire process is termed as metabolism.

In Diabetes whether type I or II or any either Insulin hormone is produced less or not being utilized properly by the cells resulting in High Blood Glucose levels.

Symptoms:

Symptoms vary from person to person and type to type.

•Hairfall
•Blurry vision
•Gum and tooth infections
•Backache
•Constipation or diarhhoea
•Gastric problems
•Weakness or fatigue
•Poly myalgia or poly arthalgia
•Giddiness
•Weight loss - even though you are eating more (type 1)
•Urinating often
•Feeling very thirsty
•Feeling very hungry - even though you are eating
•Tingling, pain, burning sensation or numbness in the hands/feet (type 2)
•Skin infections and pigmentation
•Cuts/bruises that are slow to heal

Types:
1. Type I or Insulin dependent Diabetes/Juvenile diabetes
2. Type II or Non-insulin dependent Diabetes OR Diabetes Mellitus
3. Gestational Diabetes

Causes:
To understand diabetes, first you must understand how glucose is normally processed in the body.

How insulin works:

Insulin is a hormone that comes from the pancreas, a gland situated behind and below the stomach.

-The pancreas secretes insulin into the bloodstream.
-The insulin circulates, enabling sugar to enter your cells.
-Insulin lowers the amount of sugar in your bloodstream.
-As your blood sugar level drops, so does the secretion of insulin from your pancreas.

The role of glucose

  • Glucose - a sugar - is a main source of energy for the cells that make up muscles and other tissues.
  • Glucose comes from two major sources: food and your liver.
  • Sugar is absorbed into the bloodstream, where it enters cells with the help of insulin.
  • Your liver stores and makes glucose.

When your insulin levels are low, such as when you haven't eaten in a while, the liver metabolizes stored glycogen into glucose to keep your glucose level within a normal range.

Causes of type 1 diabetes:

In type 1 diabetes, your immune system - which normally fights harmful bacteria or viruses - attacks and destroys your insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. This leaves you with little or no insulin. Instead of being transported into your cells, sugar builds up in your bloodstream. Type 1 is thought to be caused by a combination of genetic susceptibility and environmental factors, though exactly what many of those factors are is still unclear.

Causes of prediabetes and type 2 diabetes

In prediabetes - which can lead to type 2 diabetes - and in type 2 diabetes, your cells become resistant to the action of insulin, and your pancreas is unable to make enough insulin to overcome this resistance. Instead of moving into your cells where it's needed for energy, sugar builds up in your bloodstream. Exactly why this happens is uncertain, although as in type 1 diabetes, it's believed that genetic and environmental factors play a role in the development of type 2. Being overweight is strongly linked to the development of type 2 diabetes, but not everyone with type 2 is overweight.

Causes of gestational diabetes

During pregnancy, the placenta produces hormones to sustain your pregnancy. These hormones make your cells more resistant to insulin. As your placenta grows larger in the second and third trimesters, it secretes more of these hormones - making it even harder for insulin to do its job.

Normally, your pancreas responds by producing enough extra insulin to overcome this resistance. But sometimes your pancreas can't keep up. When this happens, too little glucose gets into your cells and too much stays in your blood. This is gestational diabetes.

Tests and diagnosis:

Tests for type 1 and type 2 diabetes

Glycated hemoglobin (A1C) test: This blood test indicates your average blood sugar level for the past two to three months. It measures the percentage of blood sugar attached to hemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying protein in red blood cells. The higher your blood sugar levels, the more hemoglobin you'll have with sugar attached. An A1C level of 6.5 percent or higher on two separate tests indicates that you have diabetes.

If the A1C test results aren't consistent, the test isn't available, or if you have certain conditions that can make the A1C test inaccurate - such as if you're pregnant or have an uncommon form of hemoglobin (known as a hemoglobin variant) - your doctor may use the following tests to diagnose diabetes:

Random blood sugar test: A blood sample will be taken at a random time. Regardless of when you last ate, a random blood sugar level of 200 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) — 11.1 millimoles per liter (mmol/L) — or higher suggests diabetes.

Fasting blood sugar test: A blood sample will be taken after an overnight fast. A fasting blood sugar level between 100 and 125 mg/dL (5.6 and 6.9 mmol/L) is considered prediabetes. If it's 126 mg/dL (7 mmol/L) or higher on two separate tests, you'll be diagnosed with diabetes.

If type 1 diabetes is suspected, your urine will be tested to look for the presence of ketones, a byproduct produced when muscle and fat tissue are used for energy when the body doesn't have enough insulin to use the available glucose. Occasionally a C peptide level — a test used to measure the ability of the pancreas to secrete insulin — may be ordered. Levels of C peptide are usually low in people with type 1 diabetes, but may be normal or high in people with type 2 diabetes.

Tests for gestational diabetes

Medical experts haven't established a single set of screening guidelines for gestational diabetes. Some question whether gestational diabetes screening is needed if you're younger than 25 and have no risk factors. Others say that screening all pregnant women - no matter their age - is the best way to identify all cases of gestational diabetes.

Your doctor will likely evaluate your risk factors for gestational diabetes early in your pregnancy.

If you're at high risk of gestational diabetes - for example, your body mass index (BMI) before pregnancy was 30 or higher, you had gestational diabetes during a previous pregnancy or you have a mother, father, sibling or child with diabetes - your doctor may test for diabetes at your first prenatal visit.

If you're at average risk of gestational diabetes, you'll likely have a screening test for gestational diabetes sometime during your second trimester — typically between 24 and 28 weeks of pregnancy.

Your doctor may use the following screening tests:

Initial glucose challenge test: You'll begin the glucose challenge test by drinking a syrupy glucose solution. One hour later, you'll have a blood test to measure your blood sugar level. A blood sugar level below 130 to 140 mg/dL or 7.2 to 7.8 mmol/L, is usually considered normal on a glucose challenge test, although this may vary at specific clinics or labs. If your blood sugar level is higher than normal, it only means you have a higher risk of gestational diabetes. Your doctor will order a follow-up test to determine if you have gestational diabetes.

Follow-up glucose tolerance testing: For the follow-up test, you'll be asked to fast overnight and then have your fasting blood sugar level measured. Then you'll drink another sweet solution - this one containing a higher concentration of glucose - and your blood sugar level will be checked every hour for a period of three hours. If at least two of the blood sugar readings are higher than the normal values established for each of the three hours of the test, you'll be diagnosed with gestational diabetes.

Tests for prediabetes

The primary test to screen for prediabetes is:

The glycated hemoglobin (A1C) test: This blood test indicates your average blood sugar level for the past two to three months. It works by measuring the percentage of blood sugar attached to hemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying protein in red blood cells. The higher your blood sugar levels, the more hemoglobin you'll have with sugar attached. An A1C level between 5.7 and 6.4 percent suggests you have prediabetes. Normal levels are below 5.7 percent.

If the A1C test isn't available, or if you have certain conditions that can make the A1C test inaccurate — such as if you're pregnant or have an uncommon form of hemoglobin (known as a hemoglobin variant) — your doctor may use the following tests to diagnose diabetes:

Fasting blood sugar test: A blood sample will be taken after an overnight fast. A blood sugar level from 100 to 125 mg/dL (5.6 to 6.9 mmol/L) is considered prediabetes, sometimes referred to as impaired fasting glucose. Normal is below 100 mg/dL.

Oral glucose tolerance test: A blood sample will be taken after you fast for at least eight hours or overnight. Then you'll drink a sugary solution, and your blood sugar level will be measured again after two hours. A blood sugar level less than 140 mg/dL (7.8 mmol/L) is normal. A blood sugar level from 140 to 199 mg/dL (7.8 to 11 mmol/L) is considered prediabetes. This is sometimes referred to as impaired glucose tolerance.

Homeopathy:

Diabetes, irrespective of the cause is treated as a whole in Homeopathy. The raised sugar values are not dissolved or neutralized but the basic mal-absorption is aimed to be made normal by the Right Homeopathic Medications conditionally. Timely investigations stand for guidance in Homeopathic treatment. Healthy life style and removal of maintaining and exciting factors do play a role in Homeopathic treatment.

In case you have a concern or query you can always consult a specialist & get answers to your questions!
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