Posted on

Diabetes Mellitus


This week, we will be discussing what is described as a chronic non-communicable disease. This means that you have the disease for a long time, usually life (hence chronic), and it is not caused by an infection like HIV, which is chronic, but is communicable (catching).{{more}}

Diabetes or “sugar,” as it is popularly known, is a disease caused by the excess amount of sugar in the blood. This is the reason why most people associate diabetes with eating too much sugary foods; but this is a myth. Eating too much sugar does not cause diabetes or “sugar”. The body needs sugar to stay alive. Sugar is to our bodies as gas is to a car. It is the energy the body needs to stay alive. It is the reason why we feel so weak and we cannot think when we do not eat. That’s the body saying that it needs more sugar. There are many types of sugar, but the basic type of sugar our body needs is called glucose. Our bodies break down other sugars, most starches and carbohydrates and some fats to produce glucose. This is used to run the “engine” of our body. Our brains and muscles need the glucose most, so when we are hungry we get weak and we cannot think clearly. When our sugar levels get real low we get confused and when it gets really low we faint or get comatosed. If the sugar level stays too low for too long when we become comatose; then we can suffer brain damage or even die. Some diabetics have experienced really low blood sugar, called “hypoglycemia”, but most of us know what a low blood sugar is when we have not eaten. Some of us get irritable, some get weak, some get headaches and a few will faint. So, I hope I have convinced you that you need sugar to live, because some people go about cutting out all sugar from their diet in order to not get diabetes.

Diabetes results from our bodies not using or utilizing the sugar or starch we eat properly. The body has a substance that is called insulin that helps us to use the insulin we take in. If the body does not have enough insulin or if the insulin is not working properly, then the sugar circulates in the blood, but the bulk of it is not used up properly. Sugar then begins to leak out in the urine and this urine sugar “pulls” out water with it, so the person “pees” a lot. Because of this loss of water from the body, then the person feels thirsty and they drink a lot of fluids. The body senses a “lack” of sugar, because the sugar in the blood stream cannot get into the body’s cells; so, these people eat a lot and still they lose weight. This is caused usually by the lack of insulin, as insulin is a “body building” hormone, so a lack or absence of insulin causes you to lose weight. To use the car analogy, diabetes is like a car’s tank being filled with gas, but the injectors or spark plugs are not working, so the car cannot utilize the gas.

Not everyone loses weight, as some obese diabetics will tell you, because there are 2 main types of diabetes: that caused by a lack or defiency of insulin and that caused by a resistance to the insulin. In other words, in the second case insulin may be present in low, normal and even sometimes in large quantities, but the body appears not to respond properly to the insulin. The end result is the same: diabetes mellitus or sugar. The only difference is the persons with diabetes who have no or little insulin tend to be slim and younger (usually children and teenagers); they usually do not inherit their disease (but can) and they need insulin to survive. They are called type 1 or early onset or insulin dependent diabetics. The older diabetics, who developed diabetes because it runs in the family, are usually obese (not always, these are general trends) and are not dependent on injected insulin. They usually have a resistance to insulin and sometimes a defiency, but usually not a complete lack of insulin. They are usually treated with tablets that help their bodies to become sensitive to insulin and sometimes tablets that help their pancreas to secrete insulin if they have a defiency. This second group are called non-insulin dependent diabetics or type 2 or mature onset diabetes. Obviously, there are always those who do not fit into these two broad groups in terms of classification, but the diagnosis is the same diabetes mellitus.

For comments or question contact: Dr Rohan Deshong
Tel: (784) 456-2785