Diabetes Mellitus; (1St of 2 Articles)

Article excerpt

Byline: Dr. Gary S. Sy

A LACK as well as an excess of blood sugar (glucose) can be devastating. For this reason, the body strives to maintain blood sugar levels within a narrow range through the coordinated effort of several glands and their hormones. If these control mechanisms are disrupted, diabetes (high blood sugar) or hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) may result.

Normally, the body responds to the rise in blood glucose after meals by secreting insulin, a hormone produced by the beta cells of the pancreas.

Diabetes mellitus is a common disorder that occurs when your pancreas either totally stops producing insulin or does not produce enough of the hormone for your body's need. This lack of insulin results in a low absorption of glucose, both by the body's cells, which need it for energy, and by the liver, which stores it and this result in an abnormally high level of glucose in your blood, along with a spillover of some of the excess glucose into the urine.

There are two main forms of Diabetes Mellitus:

1.) Type I (also called juvenile onset or insulin dependent) diabetes - associated with destruction of the beta cells of the pancreas, which manufacture insulin. This type of diabetes occurs mostly in children and young adults. Recent evidence implicates a viral cause in some cases. Symptoms of type I diabetes include irritability, frequent urination, abnormal thirst, nausea or vomiting, weakness, fatigue, weight loss despite a normal (or even increased) intake of food, and unusual hunger. In children, frequent bedwetting - especially by a child who did not previously wet the bed - is another common sign.

2) Type II (non-insulin dependent or maturity onset) diabetes - In this form of diabetes mellitus, which usually affects people over 40, the insulin-producing cells in your pancreas function, but the output of insulin is not adequate for your body's needs. People who have this form of disorder usually over-eat and are overweight. Heredity is also a factor. In most cases, there is a family history of the disorder. Age is also a factor, because the efficiency of your pancreas decreases as you become older. Symptoms include blurred vision, itching, unusual thirst, drowsiness, fatigue, skin infections, slow wound healing, tingling or numbness in the hands and feet, and loss of weight since the fat and muscle are burned up to provide energy. …