Diabetes is a disorder of carbohydrate metabolism. It is a disease characterized by persistent hyper-glycemia (high blood sugar levels). It is a metabolic disease that requires medical diagnosis, treatment and lifestyle changes.
There are three main forms of diabetes : Type 1, Type 2 and gestational diabetes (or Type 3, occurring during pregnancy), although these three “types” of diabetes are more accurately considered as patterns of pancreatic failure rather than single diseases.
- Type 1 is due to autoimmune destruction of the insulin-producing cells
- Type 2 and gestational diabetes are due to insulin resistance by tissues. Type 2 may progress to destruction of the insulin producing cells of the pancreas, but is still considered as Type 2, even though insulin administration may be required.
Since insulin is the principal hormone that regulates uptake of glucose into most cells from the blood (primarily muscle and fat cells, but not central nervous system cells), deficiency of insulin or the insensitivity of its receptors play a central role in all forms of diabetes mellitus.
Diabetes is a chronic disease, and emphasis is on managing short-term as well as long-term diabetes-related problems. There is an important need for patient education, nutritional support, self glucose monitoring, as well as long-term glycemic control.