American Diabetes Month
Diabetes refers to diabetes mellitus or, less often, to diabetes insipidus.
Diabetes mellitus and diabetes insipidus share the name "diabetes"
because they are both conditions characterized by excessive urination
Diabetes mellitus is the third leading cause of death in the United States
after heart disease and cancer.
What is diabetes mellitus?
Diabetes mellitus, commonly referred to as "diabetes," means
"sweet urine." It is a chronic medical condition associated with
abnormally high levels of sugar (glucose) in the blood. Elevated levels of blood
glucose (hyperglycemia) lead to spillage of glucose into the urine, hence the
term sweet urine. Normally, blood glucose levels are tightly controlled by
insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas. Insulin lowers the blood glucose
level. When the blood glucose elevates (for example, after eating food), insulin
is released from the pancreas to normalize the glucose level. In patients with
diabetes mellitus, the absence or insufficient production of insulin causes
Diabetes mellitus is a chronic medical condition, meaning it can last a
lifetime. Over time, diabetes mellitus can lead to blindness, kidney failure,
and nerve damage. Diabetes mellitus is also an important factor in accelerating
the hardening and narrowing of the arteries (atherosclerosis), leading to
strokes, coronary heart diseases, and other blood vessel diseases in the body.
Diabetes mellitus affects 12 million people (6% of the population) in the United
States. The direct and indirect cost of diabetes mellitus is $40 billion per
Diabetes Mellitus At A Glance
- Diabetes mellitus is a chronic condition associated with abnormally high
levels of sugar (glucose) in the blood.
- Insulin produced by the pancreas lowers
- Absence or insufficient production of insulin causes diabetes.
The two types of diabetes are referred to as insulin dependent (type I) and
non-insulin dependent (type II).
- Symptoms of diabetes mellitus include increased
urine output and appetite as well as fatigue.
- Diabetes mellitus is diagnosed by
blood sugar (glucose) testing.
- The major complications of diabetes mellitus
include dangerously elevated blood sugar, abnormally low blood sugar due to
diabetes medications, and disease of the blood vessels which can damage the eye,
kidneys, nerves, and heart.
- Diabetes treatment depends on the type and severity
of the diabetes.
For much more information, please read our article on Diabetes
Last Editorial Review: 10/23/2001