Thursday, March 12, 2009

Definition of Diabetes Mellitus

Definition of diabetes mellitus is a chronic disease caused by the inability of the pancreas to produce insulin or to use the insulin produced in the proper way. Diabetes mellitus is the 7th leading cause of death among Americans; over 15 million Americans suffer from one form or another of this disease.
Definition of diabetes mellitus
After a meal, a portion of the food a person eats is broken down into sugar (glucose). The sugar then passes into the bloodstream and to the body's cells via a hormone (called insulin) that is produced by the pancreas.
Normally, the pancreas produces the right amount of insulin to accommodate the quantity of sugar. However, if the person has diabetes mellitus, either the pancreas produces little or no insulin or the cells do not respond normally to the insulin. Sugar builds up in the blood, overflows into the urine and then passes from the body unused. Over time, high blood sugar levels can damage:
  • eyes - leading to diabetic retinopathy and possible blindness
  • blood vessels - increasing risk of heart attack, stroke and peripheral artery obstruction
  • nerves - leading to diabetic neuropathy, foot sores and possible amputation, possible paralysis of the stomach, chronic diarrhea
  • kidneys - leading to kidney failure
Diabetes mellitus has also been linked to impotence and digestive problems. It is important to note that controlling blood pressure and blood glucose levels, plus regular screenings and check-ups, can help reduce risks of these complications.
There are two main types of diabetes mellitus, Type I diabetes mellitus  and Type II diabetes mellitus:
  • Type I diabetes mellitus or insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (formerly called juvenile-onset diabetes mellitus, because it tends to affect persons before the age of 20) affects about 10 percent of people with diabetes mellitus. With this type of diabetes mellitus, the pancreas makes almost no insulin.
  • Type II diabetes mellitus or non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. This was previously called "adult-onset diabetes mellitus" because in the past it was usually discovered after age 40. However, with increasing levels of obesity and sedentary lifestyle, this disease is now being found more and more in adolescents - and sometimes even in children under 10 - and the term "adult onset" is no longer used.
Type II diabetes mellitus comprises about 90 percent of all cases of diabetes mellitus. With this type of diabetes mellitus, either the pancreas produces a reduced amount of insulin, the cells do not respond to the insulin, or both.
There are three less common types of diabetes mellitus called gestational diabetes mellitus, secondary diabetes mellitus and impaired glucose tolerance (IGT):
  1. Gestational diabetes mellitus occurs during pregnancy and causes a higher than normal glucose level reading.
  2. Secondary diabetes mellitus is caused by damage to the pancreas from chemicals, certain medications, diseases of the pancreas (such as cancer) or other glands.
  3. Impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) is a condition in which the person's glucose levels are higher than normal.

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