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What is Diabetes Mellitus?

Another term for diabetes mellitus is diabetes.

Diabetes comes from the Greek language and means “to siphon or to go through”. Mellitus is from the Latin and means “honey”. Most diabetics have urine with high levels of sugar and one symptom of diabetes is a constant thirst. Diabetics keep drinking in an attempt to eliminate the excess sugar build up in the body. This is one of the many symptoms of diabetes. It is a disease that results from high blood sugar (glucose) levels. The body is unable to properly use, store and process sugar. Simple sugar is what our body uses to give us energy and it is critical for everyday life. It is a disorder that leads to high blood sugar levels.

Bottom line – the blood glucose level is too high – it is abnormal.

What’s the connection with sugar?

Sugar gets into the bloodstream through eating carbohydrates (pasta, bread, cereal), digesting the carbohydrates into sugar and then absorbing the sugars into the blood.

Insulin must be present and work properly for the sugar to enter the cell. Insulin is one of many hormones that help your body keep the sugar level between the bloodstream and the cells in balance; it kicks in when the blood sugar is too high (hyperglycemia). The other hormone that helps the body maintain proper sugar levels is glucagon – it kicks in when the blood sugar level gets too low (hypoglycemia).

The entire balancing process is called homeostasis.

Diabetes Mellitus:

- Can lead to serious complications and premature death, but people can take steps to manage the disease and reduce the risk of complications

-Is one of the leading causes of death and disability

-Costs us money as health care and other costs in the United States for the treatment of diabetes cost more than $150 billion a year

-Impacts over 12 million Americans age 60 and older have diabetes; over 20% of those over 60 years of age

-Is present in about 8% and possibly 10% of Americans – that’s 1 of every 10 people you know!

-Afflicts at least 5 million Americans that DO NOT know they have the disease

-Causes complications that include blindness, amputations, gangrene, swollen feet, kidney malfunction, heart disease, nerve damage and more

-Is one that experts believe that over 300 million people worldwide will have diabetes within the next 20 years

What does Type 1 vs. Type 2 Mean?

There are 2 main breakdowns in those of us who have diabetes mellitus.

Either the body does not produce enough insulin or the body does not use the insulin properly. These are really 2 very different diseases. When we eat food, the pancreas starts to create insulin so the sugar can be transported into the cells. In both forms of diabetes, sugar levels build up in the bloodstream and pass into the urine.

-Type 1 is when the body does not produce enough insulin and is linked to the auto-immune destruction of the insulin producing beta cells in the pancreas

-Type 2 is when the body is unable to effectively use the insulin and is linked strongly to obesity, inactivity and age

Other related diseases are commonly referred to as pre-diabetes, insulin resistance and Syndrome X. You can learn more at this website.