Diabetes mellitus (DM), or simply diabetes, is a long-term health disorder that is caused by the improper processing of a sugar—glucose—in the blood. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, there are two main classifications of diabetes mellitus: type I and type II. The two types differ in biological mechanism, but similarly involve the abnormal accumulation and insufficient metabolism of blood glucose (University of Maryland Medical Center, 2015).In healthy individuals, the pancreas produces a protein called insulin when glucose exceeds a certain concentration in the blood.
Insulin allows cells to absorb glucose, thus lowering the concentration of sugar in the blood and driving the production of energy that the body requires. In diabetic patients, however, the normal regulation of glucose levels via insulin is disrupted. The process by which this problem comes about is dependent on the type of diabetes. Type I DM arises when an autoimmune condition triggers the body to attack its own cells. More specifically, the immune system incorrectly targets and destroys pancreatic beta cells that are responsible for the production and secretion of insulin.
Fewer beta cells results in reduced insulin production and, consequently, increased levels of sugar in the blood. In contrast, type II DM occurs when cells become less responsive to or intolerant of insulin over time. As the effects of insulin diminish, cells become unable to take in glucose normally, thus causing high blood sugar.
Elevated blood glucose level is characteristic of all types of diabetes and, if left untreated, manifests in symptoms such as excessive thirst, increased frequency of urination, weight loss, and yeast infections, More acute medical complications of diabetes include blindness, stroke, and nerve damage that causes loss of sensation especially in the hands and feet.Type I and type II DM arise from a combination of the environment and genetics. Specific causes are not currently known, but researchers have identified several factors that may increase the likelihood of contracting diabetes. Some of these include obesity, insufficient exercise,