Diabetes mellitus, sometimes referred to as sugar diabetes, is a metabolic condition that afflicts the blood system in the body. Specifically, a condition that affects the metabolism affects the energy production capability in human or animal cells.
Diabetes Mellitus has been categorized into three distinct types:
- Type 1 diabetes mellitus;
- Type 2 diabetes mellitus;
- Gestational diabetes.
Although these three distinct types of diabetes share similar symptoms and physiological consequences, they all occur as a result of the pancreas' inability to produce sufficient insulin to break down glucose in the blood. Increased levels of glucose in the blood are also known as hyperglycemia.
Type One (1) Diabetes Mellitus
When a person permanently loses the ability to produce insulin or has become insulin-dependent, he is said to have Type One (1) Diabetes Mellitus. Biologically, the islets of Langerhans in the pancreas lose the beta cells which produce insulin. Elevated glucose levels ensue which causes the sugar diabetes. The chief cause of this beta cell loss is an autoimmune attack. Type One (1) Diabetes Mellitus is irreversible and has no connection to diet or exercise.
The only way to treat Type One (1) diabetes is to replace the insulin that cannot be physiologically produced by the pancreas and that is done with injections, through a pump or with an inhaler (see FDA-approved drug Exubera, manufactured by Pfizer). If Type 1 Diabetes is left untreated – in other words, if the body does not receive its required amount of insulin to process blood sugar - conditions such as ketosis (a crisis or DEFCON 1 reaction by your body which has the liver produce the energy needed by your cells) and diabetic ketoacidosis can develop which can lead to coma and death. However, if recognized and treated, Type One (1) Diabetes Mellitus is not difficult to live with.
Since Type One (1) Diabetes Mellitus seemed to affect children the most and it was aptly termed juvenile diabetes. It is also referred to as insulin dependent diabetes and childhood diabetes.
Type Two (2) Diabetes Mellitus
Type Two (2) Diabetes Mellitus is known as adult-onset diabetes, maturity-onset diabetes, or non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus. In Type Two diabetes, the pancreas typically maintains the ability to produce insulin. The issue then becomes either insulin secretions that are defective, insulin resistance or reduced insulin sensitivity. Reduced insulin sensitivity seems to lead all causes due to obesity, the leading cause of Type Two (2) diabetes mellitus. Fat around the waist secretes hormones (adipokines) that almost makes obese people allergic to glucose. As a result, insulin levels increase and oral medication becomes the preferred treatment.
Obesity is the leading cause of Type Two (2) Diabetes Mellitus. Natural aging and genetics are the other leading causes. Type Two diabetes is not necessarily immediately noticeable but must eventually be dealt with or it could lead to kidney dysfunction, heart disease, vision impairment, nerve damage, even liver damage.
Gestational diabetes, in simplified form, is Type Two (2) Diabetes Mellitus that occurs in women during pregnancy. For reasons many do not understand, the pancreas either fails to produce enough insulin or the body fails to respond to insulin secretions. Gestational diabetes affects 2-5% of pregnant women and can improve or even disappear after pregnancy.
Gestational Diabetes and Baby Diabetes
Gestational diabetes is treatable. If left untreated, gestational diabetes can negatively affect the health of the mother and baby fetus. The baby fetus could suffer from physical malformations, heart disease or high birth weight.
High birth weights in babies, otherwise known as macrosomia, can be caused by baby diabetes which is related to gestational diabetes. If the mother passes too much glucose to the baby, the baby will have elevated levels of glucose. When the baby's body senses this, it produces increased amounts of insulin to process the sugar. If the baby cannot keep up with the elevated levels of sugar, it will gain weight, most noticeably in the upper body. The increased weight may lead to macrosomia which may prevent the baby from birthing through the birth canal.