Diabetes mellitus or simply diabetes is a disease of the pancreas. This organ behind your stomach is responsible for producing the hormone insulin. A hormone which helps the body use food for energy.

When a person has diabetes, the pancreas either cannot produce enough insulin, uses the insulin incorrectly, or both. Insulin works together with glucose (sugar) in the bloodstream to help it enter the body’s cells to be burned for energy. If the insulin isn’t functioning properly, glucose cannot enter the cells. This causes glucose levels in the blood to rise, creating a condition of high blood sugar or diabetes, and leaving the cells without fuel.

There are two common forms of diabetes: Type 1 and Type 2.

  • Type 1: Type 1 diabetes occurs because the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas (beta cells) are damaged. The pancreas makes little or no insulin so sugar cannot get into the body’s cells for use as energy. People with this type must use insulin injections to control their blood glucose. It is the most common form of diabetes in people under age 20-30, but it can occur at any age.
  • Type 2: The pancreas in type 2 diabetes makes insulin. However, the insulin produces is either not enough or does not work properly. This type may sometimes be controlled with a combination of diet, weight management and exercise. However, treatment also may include oral glucose-lowering medications or insulin injections. Generally, type 2 diabetes is more common in people over age 40 who are overweight.

Diabetes may include the following symptoms:

  • Increased thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Increased hunger
  • Fatigue
  • Blurred vision
  • Weight loss

Other symptoms of diabetes may include:

  • Slow healing of sores or cuts
  • Itchy skin (usually in the vaginal or groin area); yeast infections
  • Dry mouth


There are two method of diagnosing diabetes. These are the fasting plasma glucose (FPG) and A1C test. Among these two, the preferred method is FPG.

1. Fasting plasma glucose (FPG)– Measures your blood glucose level after you have not eaten anything for 10 to 12 hours. Normal fasting blood glucose is between 70 and 100 mg/dl for people who do not have diabetes. The standard diagnoses of diabetes is made when:

  • A patient has a fasting blood glucose level of 126 mg/dl or higher on two separate occasions; or
  • A patient has a random blood glucose level of 200 mg/dl or greater and has common symptoms of diabetes.
  • On occasion, an oral glucose tolerance test may aid in the diagnosis of diabetes or an earlier abnormality that may become diabetes – called impaired glucose tolerance.

2. A1C test– Measures your average percentage of glycated hemoglobin, or HbA1c, in the blood. This test tells you about your blood glucose control for the past 2 to 3 months. It gives you an idea of how your treatment plan is coming along but does not replace daily testing.



What you do at home every day affects your blood glucose more than what your doctor can do every few months during your check-ups. You hold the keys to managing your diabetes by:

  • Planning what you eat and following a balanced meal plan
  • Exercising regularly
  • Taking medication, if prescribed, and closely following the guidelines on how and when to take it
  • Monitoring your blood glucose and blood pressure levels at home
  • Keeping your appointments with your health care providers and having laboratory tests completed as ordered by your doctor.



There is no cure for diabetes but it can be treated and controlled. The goals of managing diabetes are to:

  1. Keep your blood glucose levels as near to normal as possible by balancing food intake with medication and activity.
  2. Maintain your blood cholesterol and triglyceride (lipid) levels as near the normal ranges as possible. It can be done by decreasing the total amount of fat to 30% or less of your total daily calories and by reducing saturated fat and cholesterol.
  3. Control your blood pressure. Your blood pressure should not go over 130/80.
  4. Decrease or possibly prevent the development of diabetes-related health problems.

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