Diabetes: Definition, Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

Diabetes is a disease of the endocrine system, which arises due to a lack of insulin. It is characterized by metabolic disorders and, in particular, carbohydrate metabolism. Having this disease, the pancreas loses its ability to secrete the required amount of insulin or to produce insulin of the required quality.

The name “diabetes mellitus”, according to the resolution of the World Health Organization in 1985, is the name of a whole list of diseases that have common features: the level of glucose in the blood rises according to various factors.diabetes


Despite all the efforts of health organizations and national programs to combat this disease in many countries of the world, the number of patients with such a diagnosis is constantly growing. The incidence of this disease is increasing not only within the age group over 40 years old. More and more children and adolescents are included in the risk group. According to the International Diabetes Federation and WHO, there are currently over 200 million people suffering from this disease in all countries of the world.

According to experts, by 2010 this figure will increase to 239.4 million, and by 2030 – up to 380 million. In more than 90% of cases, it is type 2.

These values can be greatly underestimated, as up to 50% of patients with diabetes mellitus today remain undiagnosed. These people do not receive any hypoglycemic therapy and maintain stable hyperglycemia, which creates favorable conditions for the development of vascular and other complications.

Every 10-15 years, the total number of patients doubles. On average, 4–5% of the world’s population suffers from an endocrine disease, in Canada – from 3 to 6%, in the USA – from 10 to 20%.

The incidence of this dysfunction in Canada today has come close to the epidemiological threshold. There are more than 2.3 million diabetics registered in Canada, of which more than 750 thousand people need daily insulin intake.


Depending on the causes of the increase in blood glucose, this disease is divided into two main groups: type 1 and type 2.

Diabetes mellitus of the first type is insulin-dependent. It is associated with the disorder to the pancreas, the absolute insufficiency of its own insulin, and requires the application of insulin. Type 1 usually occurs at a young age (young people under the age of 30 mostly suffer from this form of the disease).

The second type – insulin-independent, occurs due to relative insulin deficiency. In the early stages of the disease, insulin intake is usually not required. Type 2 is a disease of a mature age. In such elderly patients, insulin is produced, and, keeping a diet and an active lifestyle, these people can achieve quite a normal sugar level. As a result, complications can be safely avoided. This is not a mild form since the main risk factors are coronary heart disease (angina pectoris, myocardial infarction), hypertension, and other cardiovascular diseases.


Symptoms of type 1

Type 1 develops rapidly and has pronounced manifestations. The patient, despite the increased appetite, quickly loses weight, feels constant fatigue, drowsiness, thirst. Frequent urge to urinate make him wake up in the middle of the night several times, the amount of urine is much higher than normal. Symptoms occur suddenly. They are not left unnoticed if you do not neglect your health.

Symptoms of type 2

The second type is the most common and at the same time the most difficult to recognize. The disease is slow, and, despite a large number of possible symptoms, they are usually mild.

For the 2nd type, the following symptoms are peculiar:

  • dry mouth and thirst, the patient can consume up to 3 to 5 liters of water daily;
  • weight loss;
  • excessive urination;
  • constant fatigue, drowsiness, feeling of weakness, irritability;
  • tingling sensation in the fingers, numbness of the limbs;
  • significant sudden weight loss despite high appetite;
  • nausea, sometimes vomiting;
  • skin is dry, severe itching, long healing of wounds and abrasions;
  • urinary tract infections;
  • high blood pressure.

Both types of this disorder are fraught with serious complications. So, hyperosmolar and lantibiotic coma, hypoglycemia, ketoacidosis can develop literally within 2 to 3 hours. In some cases, this disease leads to death.

Also, this endocrine disease is the cause of vision problems (up to complete blindness), heart, kidney, nervous system, skin, blood vessels. Thrombosis, atherosclerosis, renal failure, myocardial infarction, stroke – these are just a small part of the list of dangerous diseases that can be observed with late diagnosis and improper treatment of this disease.


Guideline about Diabetes

We bring to your attention the so-called “rating of causes” that entail the onset of this dysfunction.

Heredity. There is evidence that type 1 is inherited with a probability of 3–7% in the mother’s line and with a probability of 10% in the father’s line. If both parents are sick, the risk of the disease increases several times up to 70%. The second type of the disease is inherited with a probability of 80% both on the maternal and paternal lines, and if both parents suffer from insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, the likelihood of its manifestation in children approaches 100%, but usually in adulthood. Doctors agree: heredity is the main factor in the occurrence of this endocrine disease.

Obesity. From the point of view of the development, it is especially dangerous if the body mass index is more than 30 kg/m2. Obesity has an abdominal character, that is, the shape of the body takes the form of an apple. The size of the waist circumference is important. The risk of this disease increases with waist circumference in men more than 102 cm, in women more than 88 cm. This factor, fortunately, can be neutralized if a person consciously will struggle with overweight. The best prescription from doctors in this case – give up the sedentary lifestyle. Only 30 minutes of exercise per day or 3 hours per week can contribute to a positive outcome.

Pancreatic diseases. Pancreatitis, pancreatic cancer, diseases of other endocrine glands – everything that provokes pancreatic dysfunction, contributes to the development.

Viral infections. Rubella, chickenpox, epidemic hepatitis and certain other diseases, including influenza, increase the risk of this disorder. These infections play a triggering role as if provoking a disease. It is clear that for most people, flu will not be the main cause of this illness. But if this is an obese person with aggravated heredity, then for him, even a simple virus is a threat. A person who has not had diabetics can repeatedly suffer from influenza and other infectious diseases. At the same time, he is much less likely to develop diabetes than a person with a hereditary predisposition to it. So the combination of risk factors increases the risk of the disease several times.


Treatment depends on the type of endocrinal disease. Type 1 should always be treated with insulin, compensating for its absence in the body. Type 2 can first be treated with a diet. If this treatment is deficient, tablets are added (antidiabetic oral medications). As the disease progresses, the person switches to insulin therapy.

In most countries of the modern world, the need of patients for insulin is completely covered by preparations of genetically engineered human insulin. These are biosynthetic or recombinant human insulin and all dosage forms derived from it.

According to the International Diabetes Federation, at the end of 2004, more than 65% of the countries in the world used only human genetically engineered insulin for the treatment of patients having such a diagnosis.

There are short-acting drugs, drugs of medium duration and long-acting medications. Along with them, insulin analogs with additional properties are also used. These include insulin ultrashort action and long-term (prolonged) action. As a rule, these drugs are injected subcutaneously, but if necessary, intramuscularly or intravenously.

It is firmly established that the described disease cannot be infected like influenza or tuberculosis. Diabetes is rightly referred to as a disease of civilization, that is, the cause of this disease in many cases is excessive, rich in easily digestible carbohydrates, “civilized” food.

Is it possible to diagnose this disease at home?

At home, it is quite possible to identify this disease with a fairly high degree of reliability. This requires portable tools that diagnose increased sugar levels. These funds are on sale in pharmacies, and they can be used at home.

There are several types of such systems:

  • visual rapid tests for blood sugar testing;
  • blood glucose meter test strips, which determine the presence of sugar in the urine;
  • portable systems for analysis of glycated hemoglobin.

Currently, the most common device is a glucometer. These are devices that allow you to perform a blood test for sugar at home. The user of the device will know the measurement results within one minute, and sometimes within a few seconds.

The method of measuring sugar with a glucometer is simple. You need to insert a test strip into the device as instructed, and then pierce your finger with a special needle. Blood volume with a small drop is added to a special area on the test strip. And after a few seconds, the result is displayed on the electronic scoreboard. Results can be stored in the memory of the device.

You can check blood for sugar with this device several times a day. The most important is to measure blood glucose in the morning on an empty stomach. However, you can measure the level immediately after a meal, as well as a few hours after a meal.

Rapid testing is carried out according to a similar technique, but electronic devices are not used. The result is determined by the color change of the test strip.

Other devices used to diagnose this disease are devices for testing glycated hemoglobin A1c. The level of glycated hemoglobin reflects the average concentration of glucose in the blood over the past 3 months. These devices are much more expensive than conventional blood glucose meters. For analysis, not one drop of blood is required, but several drops, which are collected in a dropper.

Watch the video of how to have a glucose test correctly:

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