Autoimmune diseases

Diabetes Mellitus

Diabetes mellitus (DM) is a hormonal disorder which results in the body not being able to produce enough insulin for glucose metabolism or not being able to respond normally to insulin, thereby causing blood sugar (glucose) levels to be abnormally high.

There are different types of diabetes mellitus, and each have different causes, but they share similar problem of having elevated glucose in the body.

When diabetes mellitus is poorly controlled, it can degenerate to serious damage to a wide range of the body’s tissues and organs, such as the kidneys, eyes, nerves, and the heart.

Types of Diabetes mellitus

Type 1 Diabetes mellitus (T1DM)

Type 1 diabetes is also referred to as insulin-dependent diabetes or juvenile-onset diabetes. In type 1 diabetes, the immune system attacks and destroys the insulin producing cells of the pancreas. When this happens, the pancreas produces little amount of insulin that is not enough for glucose metabolism.

Symptoms of T1DM

Some of the symptoms of type 1 diabetes include:

  • Extreme thirst.
  • Increasing hunger, even after eating food.
  • Dry mouth.
  • Frequent urination.
  • Upset stomach and vomiting.
  • Weight loss regardless of frequent food intake.
  • Blurry vision.

Causes of T1DM

Hormonal destruction of pancreas beta cells remains the cause of type 1 diabetes. Insulin helps in moving glucose into the body tissues, which the cells of the body use in generating energy. When beta cells are impaired, there is little or no insulin available for glucose transport to the cells. This leads to high blood sugar level, which results in diabetes.

Complications associated with T1DM

Dehydration: Increasing concentration of blood sugar level leads to frequent urination and subsequent dehydration o the body due to loss of body fluids.

Weight loss: The body excretes glucose through urine and sweats. The loss of calories and dehydration results in weight loss.

Diabetic ketoacidosis(DKA): Due to the body’s inability to utilize the excess glucose for fuel, it breaks down adipose tissues instead. The use of fats for fuel generation creates chemicals called Ketones. The excess glucose, dehydration and increasing ketones are referred to as Ketoacidosis, and can be life threatening if not treated urgently.

Risk factors of T1DM

According some findings, only about 5% of persons with diabetes have type 1. T1DM attacks both gender equally. Some of the risk factors associated T1DM are:

  • Having a parent or sibling with type 1 diabetes.
  • Being Caucasian.
  • Being younger than 20 years.

Diagnosis and Treatment of T1DM

Type 1 diabetes can be diagnosed by checking the blood sugar level of the patient. It can be treated by injecting insulin into the body.


 Type 2 DM

Type 2 diabetes mellitus is a condition in which the cells of the body become resistant to insulin. In this case, unlike in type 1 diabetes, the pancreas makes enough insulin that can transport glucose to the body cells but, unfortunately, those glucose molecules cannot get into the cells, because the cells resist insulin. This also leads to a buildup of glucose in the body.

Basically, type 2 diabetes affects mostly middle-aged or older persons, which is why it is called adult-onset diabetes. But type 2 diabetes also affects kids and teens because of childhood obesity.

Symptoms of T2DM

Just like in type 1diabetes, the symptoms of T2DM includes:

  • Excessive urination.
  • Being very thirsty.
  • Blurry vision.
  • Tingling and numbness on hands and feet.
  • Wounds that don’t heal.
  • Weight loss.
  • Vulnerability to infections.

Causes of T2DM

T2DM is basically caused by insulin resistance by the cells of the body. However, some factors such as obesity, and metabolic syndrome can leads to insulin resistance by the body.

Complications associated with T2DM

Potential complications of type 2 diabetes include:

  • Atherosclerosis
  • Gastro paresis
  • Gum disease
  • Hearing loss
  • Kidney disease
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Stroke
  • Urinary tract infection


T2DM treatment

Treatment of T2DM involves a mixture of medication and changes in lifestyle, especially with regards to food intake.

Lifestyle changes

Weight loss: Research has shown that diabetes is associated with obesity. Being able to shed off 5% of body weight is a good way to manage diabetes.

Healthy eating: As there is no specific diet for T2DM, involving the service of a registered dietician would help.

Exercise: A regular exercise, say, for 20 to 30 minutes every day is a good way to go.

Always watch your blood sugar levels.


Metformin: Metformin lowers the amount of glucose produced by the liver and helps the body respond effectively to type 2 diabetes.

Thiazolidinedione: It makes the body become more sensitive to insulin, and works much like metformin. However, the side effect has to do with heart problems.

DPP-4 inhibitors: They help in lowering blood glucose levels. But they can cause joint pains and inflammation of the pancreas.



Chidubem Olovo is a biochemist, researcher and a content writer.

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