Diabetes Mellitus is a group of metabolic diseases characterized by high blood glucose levels, disturbances of carbohydrate, fat and protein metabolism resulting from either insulin secretion and or insulin action. The International Diabetes Federation predicts that there will be 334 million diabetics by 2025.
It is broadly classified into two types i.e., Type- I (Insulin dependent diabetes mellitus) and Type –II (Non Insulin dependent diabetes mellitus). In Type-I either the body have stopped making insulin or the amount of insulin produced is less whereas in Type –II there may be decreased or nil insulin levels and or the insulin levels may be normal but it is not being utilized by the body (Insulin resistance).
The classical symptoms of diabetes mellitus are Polydypsia, Polyphagia, Polyuria and unexplained weight loss. Symptoms of diabetes vary from person to person and are related to elevated blood glucose levels. Some common symptoms are:
Signs & Symptoms Of Diabetes Mellitus
Polyuria, Polyphagia, Polydypsia
By increased frequency of urination (Polyuria) the body tries to remove the dangerously elevated levels of glucose in the blood and excretes it through urine, hence diabetes mellitus commonly was referred to as sweet urine disease in the earlier times.
Increased appetite (Polyphagia) in a diabetic is a result of the body cells inability to take up nutrients and glucose (due to inefficient insulin secretion and or insulin action) and also because the unused glucose comes out of body through urine. Excessive thirst(Polydypsia)is due to dehydration resulting from excessive urination and sweating.
Loss of Weight/Muscle Mass Loss
As the body needs energy and is unable to use glucose (due to inefficient insulin secretion and or insulin action), it converts fat into free fatty acids for energy leading to weight loss despite a normal appetite.
Due to the high blood glucose levels, some of it is taken up by lens leading to a distorted blurred vision. This is a temporary change and the vision improves as the blood sugar level returns to normal.
Recurrent skin infections is often seen in diabetics as the glucose provide a rich environment for the micro organisms to grow. Diabetic dermatomes are often seen as a number of skin infections occurring collectively.
Vaginal infections and infections of foreskin are common infections. Slowly healing ulcers, sores, wounds cuts are due to decreased immunity and blood circulation to the wound.
The feeling of fatigue is a common symptom as the cells are unable to use glucose to produce energy. Diabetics are usually irritable and or depressed due to decreased glucose supply and nutrition to the brain.
In long standing cases of high glucose levels in the body nerves may get affected. It presents as stocking and glove neuropathy i.e., sensation of tightness, pins and needles, pain or tingling in the areas where an individual would wear a pair of gloves or stockings.
Sweet Smelling Breath
Breath that smells sweet and like nail polish remover needs immediate medical attention as it is probably due to diabetes ketoacidosis which is a deadly complication.
This may be accompanied by feelings of nausea, weakness, rapid heartbeats, abdominal pain and deep and rapid breaths.
In hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar) the diabetic experiences weakness, fainting spells, rapid heartbeat, excessive sweating, trembling, irritability, hunger or suddenly drowsiness. One should be given a carbohydrate snack or a glucose drink quickly to avoid more serious complications.
People with Type – I diabetes mellitus develop symptoms over a short period of time whereas type – II diabetes mellitus symptoms are often not as noticeable as in Type – I. Another form is the Gestational diabetes mellitus which occurs only in pregnancy and disappears after the birth of the child.