Diabetes mellitus has a long historical record dating back to second century AD. The word “diabetes” was first used by the Greek physician Aretaeus. The word diabetes means “siphon”. It was first used to describe patients with excessive thirst and urination. In the 17th century, the word mellitus, meaning “like honey”, was added when diabetes patients’ urine was noticed to be sweet. However, the disease is not directly related to urine, but instead to the pancreas. Today many other symptons and complications of the disease are known. Although, the disease has many complications there are also simple treatments to follow to avoid serious problems. Diabetes is a familiar health problem that affects millions of people world wide.
Diabetes results from the failure of the pancreas to produce a sufficient amount of insulin. Insulin is the hormone that regulates the body’s use of glucose. Therefore, the excess gluce remains in the bloodstream and passes out the body in urine. In some cases, the pancreas produces a sufficient amount of insulin, but the insulin is blocked from the body’s cells and cannot be used. This causes diabetes patients to have abnormally high amounts of sugar in their blood and urine. Diagnosing a patient with diabetes is more complicated than measuring the glucose level of urine only one time. Instead the diagnosis involves several hours of glucose-tolerance tests. These tests measure the rate in which sugar is removed from the bloodstream. After the test are complete, a high glucose level indicates insufficient insulin and the patient is diagnosed with diabetes.
There are several symptoms and complications involved with diabetes mellitus. The symptoms are excessive thirst and urination, unusual hunger, a lot of weight loss, and fatigue. The complications are heart attack and stroke, chronic kidney disease, lower-extremity amputations, blindness, and death. Arteriosclerosis is a condition caused by prolonged high levels of blood sugar that causes the walls of small blood vessels to thicken. This condition results in heart disease and stroke. Kidney failure may be caused by inadequate blood circulation. Poor circulation in the legs leads to gangrene which may require amputation of the toes or the legs. New cases of blindness in adults between the ages of 20 and 74 are caused by diabetic retinopathy. This condition causes hemorrhages in the capillaries of the eye’s retina resulting in a loss of vision. Pain or a loss of feeling in the arms or the legs is caused by neurophathy which damages the nerves. Women infected with diabetes may also experience complications with pregnancy. Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death; and therefore, a serious health problem.
Although diabetes is not a curable disease, there are several treatments that contribute to keeping the disease stable and its side effects to a minimum. A healthy diet is important and can control the disease. Fifty percent of all diabetics rely on a healthy diet to keep their disease under control. Calorie intake must be consisten and fats, carbohydrates, and proteins must be evenly distributed into three main meals throughout the day. On the other hand, other patients require insulin injections to control the disease. These injections are used to fulfill the required amount of insulin the blood is not receiving from the pancreas. It is very important that diabetes patients follow these treatments to decrease their risk of future complications.
Diabetes is a widespread disease that affects millions of people. Approximately ten million people are affected with diabetes; which is 5.9% of the entire population. There are several risk factors involved with diabetes including old age, obesity, gender, ethnicity, a family history of diabetes, and lack of physical activity. Diabetes mellitus is more likely to develop in people over the age of forty. Of all the people in the United States over sixty-five years old, 18.4% of them have diabetes. Between sixty and ninety percent of diabetes patients are overweight. The disease is more common in women than in men with a 27 to 25 ratio. The ethnic groups that are at high risk of developing the disease are Pacific Islanders, African Americans, Hispanic/Latino Americans, American Indians, and Asian Americans.
In conclusion, diabetes mellitus results from a failure of the pancreas to produce a sufficient amount of insulin. There are several symptoms and complications of the disease. Although, the disease has many complications there are also treatments to follow to avoid serious problems. Diabetes is a familiar health problem that affects millions of people world wide.
1. Compton’s Encyclopedia
2. Microsoft Encarta ’95
3. The Marshall Cavendish Illustrated Encyclopedia of Family Health, “Diabetes”, published by Marshal Cavendish House, 1984, pp. 383-385
4. Www.cdc.gov/diabetes/pubs/facts98.htm. National Diabetes Fact Sheet
5. Www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/diabetes.htm. National Center for Chronic Disease and Prevention and Health Promotion