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What is diabetes?

Doctors around the world consider diabetes mellitus as a set of metabolic disorders. Metabolism is the process by which useful energy is attained from the consumed food. Any abnormal chemical reactions in the body can hinder this process. These abnormal conditions are called metabolic disorders. When we are affected with metabolic disorders, proper breaking down of the consumed food doesn't take place. As a result, some of the essential substances in the body may be in excess or deficient.

Most of the food that we consume is broken down into glucose. Glucose is the source of energy. These substances reach the various parts of the body through bloodstream. However, these glucose cells cannot enter the cells without insulin. For this purpose, the pancreas releases adequate quantity of insulin to facilitate the glucose movement to cells. The blood sugar levels drop as soon as the glucose enters the cells.

However, a person with diabetes is affected with hyperglycemia. Hyperglycemia is the medical condition of an elevated glucose level (160-500 mg %). The increased glucose level may be due to the following reasons:

  • Insufficient insulin production by pancreas.
  • Improper response of the cells to the pancreas produced.

The cells do not get the required amount of energy for their proper functioning. The large amount of glucose in the body is excreted along with urine. Diabetic patients therefore have frequent urination tendencies (polyuria) and have an increasing thirst (polydipsia). Due to the insufficient amount of glucose, they might also feel hungry most of the times.

The increased blood sugar levels can stiffen the arteries and blood-vessel narrowing. The blood flow is thus affected. When a wound occurs, it is necessary to have a proper blood flow and oxygen to the affected site. When the blood supply is insufficient, the nutrient supply drops down due to less number of red blood cells. Hence, the healing process takes much longer time.

Diabetes can also lead to loss of sensation. This is called Diabetic Neuropathy. Due to such a condition, the patients cannot analyze the actual status of the wound. The severity of the wound can progress and result in complications.

The risk of developing infection is also significantly increased due to diabetes. Infection, in these cases, can elevate the chances of developing bone infection, sepsis, gangrene etc. Sepsis is the condition of the inflammation affecting the entire body. The death of considerable amount of body tissues is referred to as gangrene. If the infections are left untreated, it can lead to serious consequences like limb amputation.

Diabetes is so widespread that many persons consider it as an epidemic. India has the largest the number of diabetic patients in the world and the numbers are steeply increasing. The number of diabetic individuals is a whooping high of 65 million. Diabetes, especially type 2, was seen to affect middle aged people. However, a recent study showed that diabetes equally affects individuals in the age-group of 20-29. An increase in the number of patients affected with MODY (Maturity Onset Diabetes of the Young) has been reported.

Taking the worldwide scenario, almost 371 million people had diabetes in 2011. Majority of the cases were Type 2 diabetes. It is expected that Asia and Africa shall account for the most number of affected people by 2030. The number of affected persons is projected to touch 550 million by 2030. Out of this 550 million, Indians shall account to 100million. In every 3 seconds, one person is diagnosed with diabetes.

From the above facts & stats, one can clearly comprehend the significance of adequate prevention & treatment.