Diabetes Mellitus- How to go about it if you have it

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What is Diabetes Mellitus?

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About 3000 years ago, ancient Egyptians discovered that some people had excessive thirst, hunger and urination. Probably it was at that time Diabetes was unofficially discovered.

Even in ancient Indian scriptures, mention has been made of urine of some people attracted ants. The physicians that time thought that the urine must be containing high level of sugar in it to attract ants. Probably, this was the time that Diabetes was actually discovered. As time went by, scientists from all over the world started studying this condition.

A Greek scholar during that period- third century BC- Apollonius of Memphis said to have coined the term ‘diabetes’ at that time.

Today, in these modern times, where there has been a cultural shift in our style of living and eating, we are facing a glut of chronic diseases like Diabetes Mellitus, Dyslipidemias, Heart diseases, Chronic Kidney disease, Arthritis, etc. to mention a few.

Out of these, Diabetes Mellitus stands out as a leading No.1 cause to the other mentioned diseases due to its effect on various organs in the body.

I will come to it when we reach the complication part of the disease.

What exactly does the term Diabetes Mellitus mean?

The word ‘Diabetes’ is a Latin word. It was first coined by an ancient Greek physician, Aretaeus of Cappadocia, meaning “ to pass a lot of urine“.

The word ‘Mellitus’ is also a Latin word, meaning “as sweet as honey“. This was added to Diabetes by a British physician, Thomas Willis in 1675 when he noticed that the urine of a diabetic had a sweet taste, probably after noticing that ants collected at the site whenever a diabetic patient passed urine.

So, in conclusion, Diabetes Mellitus means ‘to pass a lot of urine that is as sweet as honey’. It is also called glycosuria. [There is another type of diabetes in which a lot of urine is passed but that does not contain sugar and it is termed Diabetes Insipidus].

Suggestive Read- What is Diabetes

Causes of Diabetes

That said, we would like to know what causes this mild appearing dreaded disease. Today, the main cause of diabetes is the shift from active life to a sedentary type of life.

There is also a change in eating habits from a balanced diet to a high glycemic indexed fast food. Again, due to the advent of new gadgets like video games, childhood games are shifting from outdoor games to indoor sedentary games.

Other causes like a disease of the pancreas[called pancreatitis], a gland that releases a hormone called Insulin, also leads to diabetes. Insulin helps our body to utilize the sugar which has been absorbed by our digestive system after a meal.

What is Insulin resistance?

Apart from insulin deficiency, an abundance of fatty tissue in obese people and lack of exercise can lead to a condition called insulin resistance in some people. This prevents sugar absorption by fatty tissues leading to a rise in blood sugar levels. Collectively, this results in effects on different parts of the body like the heart and kdneys and is termed Metabolic Syndrome.

Does fasting cause diabetes?

In people fasting continuously for many days, there is an acute lack of blood sugar. This prompts the body to release sugar stored in the liver.

This increases the blood sugar level drastically and leads to a condition called “fasting diabetes”. It is reversible without medications.

What is hyperglycemia?

Hyperglycemia is a condition characterized by high blood sugar levels. It is commonly associated with diabetes, a chronic medical condition that affects the body’s ability to regulate blood glucose.

Hyperglycemia occurs when the body doesn’t have enough insulin or cannot effectively use the insulin it produces. This leads to an accumulation of glucose in the bloodstream.

Persistent hyperglycemia can have various detrimental effects on the body, including damage to the blood vessels, nerves, and organs.

It can also lead to symptoms such as excessive thirst, frequent urination, fatigue, blurred vision, and slow wound healing, ultimately leading to frank diabetes.

How do you manage hyperglycemia and prevent diabetes?

To manage hyperglycemia and prevent diabetes, you can follow these tips:

  1. Follow a balanced diet: A balanced diet that contains a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats helps overcome hyperglycemia. Limit your intake of processed foods, sugary beverages, and high-fat foods.
  2. Maintain a healthy weight: Aim for a healthy body weight by incorporating regular physical activity into your routine and making healthy food choices.
  3. Engage in regular exercise: Perform moderate-intensity aerobic activities like brisk walking, swimming, or cycling for at least 150 minutes per week. Include strength training exercises at least twice a week.
  4. Monitor blood sugar levels: If you have hyperglycemia, monitor your blood sugar levels and try to control it by prudent diet and exercise.

What is Pre-diabetes?

Pre-diabetes is a condition characterized by higher blood sugar levels than normal, but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes.

Signs and symptoms of pre-diabetes include increased thirst, frequent urination, fatigue, blurred vision, and slow wound healing.

Diagnostic investigations that indicate pre-diabetes include fasting blood sugar levels between 100-125 mg/dL and an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) result between 140-199 mg/dL.

Ways to prevent pre-diabetes include maintaining a healthy weight, engaging in regular physical activity, consuming a balanced diet, and avoiding excessive sugar and refined carbohydrate intake.

Economic impact of diabetes

Diabetes has significant economic impacts on both individuals and countries globally.

The disease imposes a heavy financial burden on individuals through medical expenses, including doctor visits, medications, and monitoring supplies. Additionally, individuals with diabetes often face higher insurance costs and may experience reduced productivity due to illness or disability.

At a national level, diabetes places a substantial economic strain on healthcare systems. The costs associated with diabetes management, treatment, and complications are substantial and continuously rising.

These costs include

  • healthcare services,
  • medications,
  • hospitalizations, and
  • long-term care.

Furthermore, diabetes can lead to productivity losses as individuals may require time off work or experience decreased productivity while on the job.

What are the first signs of being a diabetic?

Increased thirst, frequent urination, unexplained weight loss, extreme fatigue, blurred vision, slow-healing sores, and frequent infections.
It’s important to consult a healthcare professional for proper diagnosis and advice.

How does diabetes affect you?

Diabetes can have various effects on the body, including increased thirst and urination, fatigue, blurred vision, slow wound healing, and increased risk of heart disease and stroke.

Can I live a normal life with diabetes?

Yes, you can live a normal life with diabetes.

Is type 2 diabetes hard to live with?

It can be challenging to live with type 2 diabetes, but with proper management and lifestyle adjustments, it is possible to lead a fulfilling life.


I guess you have now understood the basics of diabetes. In my future articles, we will discuss in details regarding the investigations and management of this disease using oral antidiabetic drugs and insulin.

Here is a short video to show how you get diabetes-

I will discuss the causes and types of Diabetes in my next post followed by signs and symptoms of diabetes mellitus along with investigations in a post following that.

To know more about diabetes, try these links-

  1. Type 1 Diabetes
  2. Type 2 Diabetes
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