Diabetes: What exactly is it?

Diabetes mellitus is one of the oldest known human diseases. It has been advancing relentlessly in modern times mostly in developed countries and is now among the leading causes of death. Below is a brief overview of what you need to know about diabetes.   

What exactly is it?   

Many people have heard about it and many know someone who suffers with the condition but few know exactly what it is.

This condition arises when the body does not produce enough insulin or the insulin doesn't work normally.  There are a number of reasons why insulin secretions may be reduced. An individual could be affected by more than one cause. The main causative agents of diabetes include genetics, being overweight, infections and pancreatic diseases.

The Types of Diabetes

There are two main types of diabetes; namely Type I and Type II, but it is worth noting that there are also several other subtypes.

Type I diabetes is also called insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM).  Type I afflicts around 5% of diabetics. Those affected must have regular injections of insulin. 

Type II diabetes is also called non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM). It is the most common type, affecting over 90% of diabetics. This type generally hits around the middle or later life. However, younger patients are increasingly diagnosed with Type II diabetes.

The Symptoms and Complications of Diabetes

The classical symptoms of diabetes are excessive thirst, excessive appetite, and excessive urination. However, few symptoms show early in the disease. Other symptoms include dehydration, tiredness, lethargy, and blurred vision. 

As diabetes progresses, its effects can be devastating, affecting all organs of the body. Diabetes can cause large blood vessels due to plaque buildup (made up of cholesterol and other fats). Plaque ruptures can form blood clots, which impede blood flow to vital areas like the heart and brain.

Reduced blood flow increases the risk of having a heart attack, suffering a stroke.  It can also lead to peripheral arterial disease (lack of blood flow to the lower limbs). This may cause pain and discoloration in the lower legs and slow healing wounds. If this continues for a long time, it may increase your risk of amputation. 

Long periods of high blood sugar can damage the small blood vessels in your eyes, nerves, and kidney. This can lead to eye problems, diabetic kidney disease, and nerve damage.

Protecting Yourself from Diabetes dangers

The first thing you need to know is that you will not inevitably develop complications simply because you have diabetes. Research has shown that the better your blood glucose control, the less likely you are to experience any complications. It has been demonstrated that diabetics can normalize their blood sugar levels by following a simple diet and increasing physical activities.

The diabetic diet is very low in fat and high in fibre. Consume more natural fibre-rich foods, simply prepared and low in fat. Avoid refined and processed foods. Markedly reduce fats, oil, and grease.

Along with proper diabetic control, giving up (or not starting) smoking can reduce your chances of developing complications. Smoking and diabetes definitely don’t mix.

All of the aforementioned dangers are more common in individuals who smoke.


Diabetes is a common condition and seems to be increasing in incidence worldwide. However, there is some good news too.  There is a great deal of research into prevention, cures, and treatments of the symptoms and complications. Our understanding of the disease has increased dramatically, and the future prospects for diabetics are promising.

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Additional References https;//www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/diabetes