When he was 21 years old, Ken developed puzzling, unquenchable
thirst. He also had to urinate frequently- eventually about every 20 minutes.
Soon ken’s limbs began to feel heavy. He was chronically tired, and his vision
became blurred. The turning point came when Ken caught a virus. A visit to the
doctor confirmed that Ken had more than the flu, he also had type 1 diabetes
mellitus, diabetes for short.

This biochemical disorder disrupts the body’s ability to utilize
certain nutrients, primarily a blood sugar called glucose. Ken spent six weeks
in the hospital before his blood sugar level stabilized.
That was more than 50years ago, and treatment of diabetes has
improved considerable during the past half century. Nevertheless, Ken still
suffers from diabetes, and he is not alone. It is estimated that world wide,
more than 140million people have the disorder, and according to world Health
organization, that number could double by the year 2025. Understandably,
experts are concerned about the prevalence of diabetes. “With the number we are
starting to see”, says Dr. Robin S. Goland, “this could be the beginning of an
Treatment of diabetes is made more difficult because a person can
have the disease a long time before it is diagnosed. Because the early symptoms
are relatively mild, diabetes often goes unrecognized. Hence, diabetes has been
In view of the prevalence and severity of this disorder, getting
satisfying answers to the following questions will elucidate more on diabetes
as “a killer disease”
What is diabetes and its types?
What causes diabetes?
How can those have the disorder
cope with it?
1. The word “diabetes” is borrowed from the Greek word
meaning “a siphon.” The 2nd-century A.D. Greek physician, Aretus the
Cappadocian, named the condition “diabetes.” He explained that
patients with it had polyuria and “passed water like a siphon.”
“Diabetes mellitus is caused by absolute or relative insulin deficiency” said
Prof. H. U Nwanjo. He defined it as “a chronic disease due primarily to a
disorder of carbohydrate metabolism cause of which is deficiency or diminished
effectiveness of insulin, resulting in hyperglycemia and glucosuria. And quoting
WHO, he defined it as “a fasting venous plasma glucose concentration greater
than 7.8mmol/L (140mg/de) or greater than 11.1mmol/L (200mg/dL) two hours after
a carbohydrate meal even if the fasting concentration is normal. Types of
diabetes includes the following
a. Types 1 diabetes (also called “Juvenile unset: or “insulin
b. Type 2 diabetes (also called “adult unset” or Non-insulin  dependent diabetes), and gestational diabetes.
2. What causes diabetes mellitus?
Glucose fuels the body’s trillions of cell. To enter the cells,
however, it needs a “key” –insulin, a chemical release by the pancreases. With
type 1 diabetes, insulin is simply not available. With type 2 the body makes
insulin but usually not enough.
v  In type 1, a person’s immune system attacks the insulin–producing
beta cells in the pancreases. Hence, type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease
and is sometimes called “immune mediated diabetes”. Factors that can trigger an
immune reaction include viruses, toxic chemicals, and certain drugs. Genetic
make up may also be implicated, for type 1 diabetes often runs in families, and
is most common among Caucasians.
v  In type 2 diabetes, the genetic factor is even stronger but with a
greater occurrence among non-Caucasians. The body makes insulin but usually,
not enough. Moreover, the cells are reluctant to let insulin in –a condition
called “insulin resistance”. Recent studies have shown that a diet high in
fructose – sugar, derived from fruits and vegetables can contribute to insulin
resistance and even diabetes in animals regardless of their weight.
With both forms of diabetes, hungry cells and dangerous levels of
sugar in the blood is the same result. Unlike type 1, type 2 diabetes occurs
mainly in those who are over 40years of age. About 90% of those with diabetes
have type 2.
v   Gestational diabetes: Here,
hormones that are being secreted by a pregnant mother tend to suppress insulin
thereby making the available insulin not sufficient to meet the demand of both
the mothers and the child.
v  Overweight or (and) Obesity: a person is generally considered to
be obese when he or she is 20% or more above his or her ideal body weight.
Researchers are studying the relationship between genetics and obesity as well
as the way excess fat seems to promote insulin resistance in genetically
susceptible individuals. It is a common misconception that eating a lot of
sugar causes diabetes. Medical evidence shows that getting fat, regardless of
sugar intake increases the risk of genetically susceptible individuals. Still,
eating too much sugar is unhealthy, since it provides poor nutrition and contributes
to obesity.
3. So how can the already diagnosed individuals cope?
With the available evidence that shown diabetes as a “killer
disease”, individuals can still live with diabetes if they observe the
following: Diet and Exercise, insulin therapy, keep learning, and family
Ø  Diet and
although type 1 diabetes cannot
be prevented, scientists are studying the genetic risk factors and are trying
to find ways to suppress and immune attack to beta cells.
“with type 2, the picture is much brighter,” says the book
Diabetes – caring for your emotions as well as your health. “Many of those who
might be genetically susceptible avoid showing any sign of the disease simply
by eating a balanced diet and exercising regularly, thereby staying physically
fit and keeping their weight within normal limits”. Underscoring the value of
exercise, the journal of America medical association reported on a large study
involving women. The study found that a single bout of physically activity
increases insulin mediated glucose uptake by the body cells for more than 24hours”
Ø  Keep
diabetes sufferers need to be
updating information about available solution for managing diabetes.
Indeed, this killer disease- diabetes mellitus can be managed but
should not be underestimated!
Courtesy of Anyaegbu Ifeanyi


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