Presentation Physiology: Diabetes

Introduction

Diabetes mellitus is a metabolic disorder that is as a result of the body producing insufficient insulin or the body failing to react to the insulin produced (Bijlani and Manjunatha 54). Insulin is an essential component that the body requires for the digestion of glucose; failure to which results in accumulation of blood sugar, which is hazardous to the human health. Diabetes is always associated with high blood sugar levels in the body (Andrew 23). The high blood sugar is characterized by conditions such as frequent urination, increased hunger and thirst. There are three main categories of diabetes: type 1 diabetes, which is as a result of the body failing to produce insulin and requires the frequent injection of insulin into the body; type 2 diabetes, which is associated by the body resistance towards insulin, the body cells fail to use the insulin produced; gestational diabetes, which occurs in women during pregnancy due to the high levels of glucose deposits in the body (Braun and Anderson 145). Gestational diabetes is similar to type 2 diabetes since it involves a combination of insufficient insulin production and inadequate responsiveness of the body to the insulin produced. Clark (99) reports that gestational diabetes is reported in about 2-5 percent of all pregnancies. In addition, gestational diabetes can be treated but needs cautious medical supervision in the course of the pregnancy. Other types of diabetes include congenital diabetes, which is as a result of genetic defections with respect to insulin secretion, steroid diabetes and many more. Prediabetes refers to a condition whereby the blood sugar levels are above normal but not sufficiently high to cause type 2 diabetes. This paper discusses the prevalence of diabetes, its causes, signs and symptoms, management, and the physiology of diabetes.

Physiology of Diabetes

            Insulin plays a pivotal role in the regulation of glucose absorption from the blood into fat cells and primary muscle; as a result, insufficient insulin or its receptors being insensitive plays a significant role in causing all types of diabetes (Costanzo 189;  Le Roith, Taylor and Jerrold 199). Diabetes is considered a metabolism disorder. The digestive system is used in breaking down carbohydrates such as starch and sugar into blood sugar in the form of glucose, which enters into the bloodstream. Insulin facilities the process of blood sugar absorption into the bloodstream; as a result, diabetes is likely to develop of the body does not produce sufficient insulin, or that the insulin produced is not utilized efficiently. Beta cells found in the islets in the pancreas produce insulin and makes sure it is released into the bloodstream (Davidson 145). If the beta cells fail to produce sufficient insulin, or when the body fails to respond to the insulin present, or when the insulin produced is defective, there will be glucose build up in the blood stream rather than being absorbed in the body cells, which in turn results in diabetes. The net outcome of this is continual high blood sugar levels, impaired protein synthesis as well as other metabolic disorders (Gwen 147). Consequently, the high blood sugar levels damages blood vessels and nerves, which results in long-term complications such as amputations, dental disease, blindness, kidney disease, stroke, and heart disease (Costanzo 47).

Prevalence of Diabetes

The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that Diabetes is a medical condition that is life threatening; attributing to almost 3 million deaths annually. It also reports that diabetic complications are on the rise basically due to ignorance by the people in terms of lifestyles and need to adhere to the necessary preventive measures (World Health Organization para. 5). A large number of Americans have been diagnosed with diabetes mellitus type 2 and a majority of them are not informed of the risks of diabetic complications. The American Diabetes Association (A.D.A) reports that 7.8% of the American population, which equates to 23.6 million people, have diabetes (World Health Organization). It also infers that diabetes is responsible for many deaths in America. Type 2 diabetes is prevalent among the African Americans, Latin Americans, Native Americans and the Asian Americans.

Signs and Symptoms

The classical signs and symptoms that are associated with diabetes include recurrent urinations, increased dehydration and appetite (Kamal 100). Symptoms tend to develop faster in type 1 diabetes, while in type 2 diabetes, symptoms may be mild or sometimes even absent. Continual high glucose levels may result in absorption of glucose in the eye lenses, which causes alterations in the shape of the eye, which in turn results to vision impairments. Type 1 diabetes is characterized by rapid changes in the lens shape while I type two the changes are gradual. Type 1 diabetes is characterized by a condition known as diabetic ketoacidosis, which is characterized by rapid breathing, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and cases of unconsciousness (Le Roith, Taylor and Jerrold 147). Diabetes is also characterized by dehydration, which is due to frequent drinking of beverages that contain high sugar contents.

Long-term complications linked to diabetes often develop after about 10-20 years, and this is the probable first noticeable symptom among individuals who have not been diagnosed for diabetes prior to the onset of these complications. Some of the long-term complications associated with diabetes include damaged blood cells and increases the risk of suffering from cardiovascular disease (Manfred 54). Diabetes also results in damaged capillaries, blurred vision and increases the likelihood of developing blindness, and damages in the kidney, which increases the risk of suffering from chronic kidney disease. Diabetes also affects the nervous system, which is evident by numbness, skin damage resulting from altered sensation, and pain and itchiness in the feet. Studies have also suggested a relationship between diabetes and cognitive deficit. The figure below is a visual model of the symptoms of diabetes.

 

Causes of Diabetes

            The causes of diabetes differ with respect to one’s genetic makeup, environmental and health factors, ethnicity and family history (McArdle, Katch and Katch 148). In addition, the causes vary in accordance with the type of diabetes. As a resulted, there is no defined cause of diabetes owing to the fact that it varies according to the type and the individual. For example, the type 1 diabetes causes are different from the factors that cause gestational diabetes. Likewise, type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes are caused by different factors.

Type 1 diabetes is linked to destruction of the pancreatic cells making insulin by the immune system, which results in the body failing to produce adequate insulin. Some of the causes associated with type 1 diabetes include genetic disposition of the individual, bacterial/viral infection, unidentified components that are likely to cause autoimmune reaction, and the presence of chemical toxins in food. Environmental variables such as toxins, viruses and foods are likely to be involved in type 1 diabetes; however, the precise nature of their involvement is yet to be established. Theories propose that environmental variables are likely to activate the autoimmune damage of beta cells among individuals with hereditary susceptibility with respect to diabetes. Other studies have also put forwards that dietary aspects are likely to increase or lessen the risk of suffering from type 1 diabetes. An example is the use of Vitamin D supplements, which reduces the risk of suffering from type 1 diabetes (MedicineNet para. 10). On the other hand, type 2 diabetes is caused by several factors, with the most dominant cause being the family history. Some of the risk factors associated with type 2 diabetes include sedentary lifestyle, ageing, bad diet, and obesity. For gestational diabetes, the causes are yet to be established; however, the risk factors include obesity, polycystic ovary syndrome, and a family history associated with gestational diabetes (McArdle, Katch and Katch 104).

Treatment and Management of Diabetes

The fundamental concept towards the treatment of diabetes is basically due to the availability of insulin. Insulin was first made available during 1921 and this marked the beginning of treatment for diabetes. Type 2 diabetes currently has medications that are aimed at controlling and avoiding the complications that result due to its infections (Morgan 104). Type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes are chronic conditions implying that in most cases they cannot be completely treated. Curative methods towards the cure of diabetes have been suggested and experiment; one such method is the pancreas transplant, which yielded limited successes towards the treatment of type1 diabetes (Porth 158).

The treatment of diabetes in most cases is specialized in accordance to factors such as the type of diabetes, whether the patient presently has other active medical disorders, whether the patient has other diabetic complications, the age of the patient and the general health conditions of the patient (Sherwood 148). The only medical treatment for diabetes that has been proven efficient is the use of insulin. Insulin injection is primarily aimed at increasing the levels of insulin that is required for glucose digestion. The medication of type 1 diabetes always encompasses daily injection of insulin; which is a combination of both long acting insulin such as lispro or aspart with short acting insulin such as lente or ultra lente (Regensteinerr, Aristidis and Reusch 148). Insulin must be administered as an injection but not through the mouth usually two to three times in a day especially after meals. For the case of type 2 diabetes, medication depends on the patient’s blood sugar level at the time of diagnosis. The patient may be given time to lower his/her blood sugar without medication; this can be achieved through dietary checking and physical exercise, normally for a period of 6 months. The use of insulin is the most efficient approach to diabetes treatment. Another way of treating diabetes is through pancreas transplants, although it has not been proved to be efficient compared to insulin injection (Sabire 99).

Management of diabetes is relatively hard; it aims at ensuring a stable concentration of blood sugar levels without posing danger for the patient (Sudha 78). To ensure this, dietary habits must be monitored and enough physical exercising, aimed at the breaking down of glucose. Patient education is one of the effective strategies to manage diabetes and to avoid diabetic complications. Diabetic complications are less severe in individuals who have knowledge on managing their blood sugar levels. The onset of diabetes is accelerated by smoking, taking foods with cholesterol, obesity and the lack of adequate regular physical activity. Management of long term diabetes needs strict consideration of lifestyle issues (Tanner 148).

Conclusion

This paper has discussed several aspects relating diabetes including the types of diabetes, its physiological aspects, symptoms and signs, causes, and treatment and management. The types of diabetes identified include type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes, gestational diabetes, and other types of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is associated with the body failing to produce sufficient whereas type 2 diabetes is associated with insulin resistance. The classical signs and symptoms that are associated with diabetes include recurrent urinations, increased dehydration and appetite. The causes of diabetes differ with respect to one’s genetic makeup, environmental and health factors, ethnicity and family history. In addition, the causes vary in accordance with the type of diabetes.  Causes associated with type 1 diabetes include genetic disposition of the individual, bacterial/viral infection, unidentified components that are likely to cause autoimmune reaction, and the presence of chemical toxins in food. Type 2 diabetes is caused by a sedentary lifestyle, ageing, bad diet, and obesity. The treatment of diabetes in most cases is individualized depending on factors such as the type of diabetes, whether the patient presently has other active medical disorders, whether the patient has other diabetic complications, the age of the patient and the general health conditions of the patient.

Works Cited

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MedicineNet. “Diabetes Mellitus.” 2013. MedicineNet.com. Web. 3 May 2013.

Morgan, William. Diabetes Mellitus – Its History, Chemistry, Anatomy, Pathology, Physiology,       and Treatment – Illustrated with Woddcuts, and Cases Successfully Treated. New York:        Forbes Fress, 2010. Print.

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