What is Diabetes?


Diabetes (diabetes mellitus) refers to a group of chronic diseases affecting the way your body make use of glucose – blood sugar. If you suffer from diabetes it means that your body is not able to produce insulin and/or the cells in your body are not able to react properly to insulin. This causes blood sugar to accumulate over a level of 126 mg% in the fasting status.

Insulin is a hormone that allows glucose consumed through food to become energy for your body. This is made possible by breaking carbohydrates into glucose in the blood, which is then transported by insulin into the single cells. These cells make up muscles and tissues, but glucose is also fundamental for brain functioning.

If your body cannot manage or produce insulin the glucose level in the blood increases – this phenomenon is called hyperglycemia. If this condition persist it can damage the body and its organs. This can lead to serious health problems.

Over the past decades, diabetes has spread all over the world and the concern of the WHO and other institutions is growing. As a result, the World Diabetes Day is celebrated on 14 November to raise awareness on diabetes prevalence and risk factors.

Different Types of Diabetes

We defined diabetes as a group of diseases. Diabetes includes indeed two main types: type 1 and type 2. The definition of both types by World Health Organization is the following:

Type 1 diabetes (previously known as insulin-dependent or childhood-onset diabetes) is characterized by a lack of insulin production.

Type 2 diabetes (formerly called non-insulin-dependent or adult-onset diabetes) is caused by the body’s ineffective use of insulin.

Both type 1 and type 2 diabetes are serious. There is no such thing as mild diabetes.

Other forms of diabetes known are pre-diabetes and gestational diabetes. In pre-diabetes the blood sugar level is high but not excessively. Gestational diabetes (GDM) first occurs during pregnancy but may disappear afterwards. It develops in 1 in 25 pregnancies worldwide and is associated with complications for both the mother and the baby. Approximately half of women with a history of GDM go on to develop type 2 diabetes within five to ten years after delivery.