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Diabetes mellitus usually called just Diabetes, is a group of diseases that result in high blood sugar over a prolonged period. Either the pancreas does not produce enough insulin, or the cells do not respond properly to that insulin.
Global symbol for diabetes
Symptoms, when they occur, include frequent urination, increased thirst, and increased hunger. The latter suggests that eating addicts should have their blood sugar levels checked occasionally, especially if diabetes runs in the family.
Over a third of a billion people worldwide have diabetes, or over 8% of the adult population, with approximately equal rates in men and women. Diabetes at least doubles a person’s risk of death, and doubles the risk of cardiovascular disease. Damage to small blood vessels include damage to eyes, kidneys, and nerves. It can also lead to loss of fingers, toes, and limbs.
Type 1 diabetes results from the pancreas not producing enough insulin. This type is often, but not always, diagnosed in youth, and it used to be called insulin dependent or juvenile diabetes. Its cause is unknown.
Type 2 diabetes starts with insulin resistance in which the cells do not respond properly to insulin. This used to be known as non insulin-dependent diabetes or adult-onset diabetes. About 90% of diabetics are Type 2. Excessive body weight and insufficient exercise are factors in developing this type.
Gestational diabetes is when pregnant women with no prior history of diabetes develop high blood sugar.
2-hour glucose tolerance test This involves taking a measured dose of glucose (75g) and then testing the blood sugar level two hours later. A reading of 200 milligrams glucose per deciliter of blood (mg/dL) indicates diabetes.
Fasting glucose test This is usually easier to administer, involving testing after overnight fasting. A reading of over 126 mg/dL indicates diabetes. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glucose_test.
Glycated hemoglobin test This is more commonly called an HbA1c or A1C test. It is usually more expensive. It suggests the average blood sugar level over the past three months, possibly weighted to the most recent 2 to 4 weeks. This is reported in percent DCCT or IFCC units. A result higher than 6.5% or 7.0% DCCT, or higher than 48 or 53 mmol/mol (IFCC), suggests diabetes. The differences reflect whether you are following the guidelines of the International Diabetes Federation (lower values) or the American Diabetes Association (higher values). See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glycated_hemoglobin.
A healthy diet, physical exercise, not using tobacco, and being a normal weight can help prevent or delay onset of diabetes. These same things can also help in treatment of diabetes.
Besides the measures above to try to prevent diabetes, there are also medications. Type 1, and some Type 2 diabetics need to take insulin, because the pancreas is not producing enough of it.
Metformin This is a drug that decreases production of glucose by the liver, and is relatively cheap and has few side effects. Other medications may be needed.
Low blood sugar
Diabetics who are taking insulin or other medications also face the danger of low blood sugar. Taking insulin requires very frequent testing, and/or estimating how much carbohydrate you have just eaten or are about to eat. When the blood sugar falls below normal, you experience feelings of unease, sweating, trembling, which you may miss because of confusion, behavioral changes, seizures, or even death. So it is good for people close to you to know you are diabetic and recognize the symptoms. Treatment for low blood sugar is a small amount of glucose, which can be from a small glass of orange or another fruit juice, a few sugary mints, or something similar.
Updated 6 Oct 2015
Addictionary 2 by Jan & Judy Wilson
is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.