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St. Maarten Medical Center
Diabetes is often referred to by doctors as diabetes mellitus. It describes a group of metabolic diseases in which the person has high blood glucose, either because insulin production is inadequate, or because the body’s cells do not respond properly to insulin or both.
Diabetes is a long-term condition that causes high blood sugar levels. People who have diabetes are referred to as diabetic.
Diabetes is caused by a metabolism disorder. Metabolism refers to the way our bodies digest food. Most of what we eat is broken down into glucose, which is a form of sugar in the blood.
When our food is digested, glucose makes its way into our bloodstream. Our cells use the glucose for energy and growth. In order for glucose to enter our cells, we need insulin.
Insulin is a hormone that is produced by the pancreas. After eating, the pancreas automatically releases an adequate amount of insulin to move the glucose into the cells. When this happens blood-glucose levels drop.
A diabetic persons has a condition in which the quantity of glucose in the blood is too high (hyperglycemia). The body either does not produce enough insulin, produces no insulin or has cells that do not respond properly to the insulin the pancreas produces. This results in too much glucose building up in the blood that eventually leaves the body via urine.
The most common form of diabetes is type 2 diabetes, accounting for approximately 90% of all cases.
The most common type of symptoms include:
Persons with this type of diabetes, their bodies cannot produce insulin. This type is sometimes called insulin-dependent diabetes, juvenile diabetes, or early onset diabetes. People usually develop type 1 diabetes before the age of 40 or in the teenage years.
The body does not produce enough insulin for proper function, or the cells in the body do not react to insulin (insulin resistance).
Some people can control their type 2 diabetes by losing weight, following a healthy diet, doing plenty of exercise and monitoring their blood glucose levels. However, as type 2 diabetes is usually progressive, the patient may need to take tablets. Ultimately a patient with type 2 diabetes may need insulin-injections.
Being overweight, physically inactive and having a poor diet increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. People with a lot of central obesity also known as belly fat, are especially at risk.
This type of diabetes occurs during pregnancy. Most women can control gestational diabetes with exercise and diet, some may need to take some kind of glucose controlling medicines, mostly insulin-injections.
Undiagnosed or uncontrolled gestational diabetes can raise the risk of complications during childbirth.
Most patients with type 2 diabetes initially had pre-diabetes. Their blood glucose levels were higher than the normal range but were not high enough to have a diabetes diagnoses.
When someone is pre-diabetic, the cells in the body are becoming resistant to insulin. At this stage some damage to the circulatory system and the heart may already have occurred.