Health & Medicine

Diabetes Mellitus

Diabetes Mellitus, disease in which the pancreas produces little or no insulin, a hormone that helps the body’s tissues absorb glucose (sugar) so it can be used as a source of energy. The condition may also develop if muscle, fat, and liver cells respond poorly to insulin. In people with diabetes, glucose levels build up in the blood and urine, causing excessive urination, thirst, hunger, and problems with fat and protein metabolism. Diabetes mellitus differs from the less common diabetes insipidus, which is caused by lack of the hormone vasopressin that controls the amount of urine secreted.

Diabetes is classified into two types. In Type 1 diabetes, formerly called insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM) and juvenile-onset diabetes, the body does not produce insulin or produces it only in very small quantities. Symptoms usually appear suddenly, typically in individuals under 20 years of age. Most cases occur around puberty—around age 10 to 12 in girls and age 12 to 14 in boys.

Type 1 diabetes is considered an autoimmune disease because the immune system (system of organs, tissues, and cells that rid the body of disease-causing organisms or substances) attacks and destroys insulin-producing cells, known as beta cells, in the pancreas.

In Type 2 diabetes, formerly known as non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM) and adult-onset diabetes, the body’s delicate balance between insulin production and the ability of cells to use insulin goes awry. Symptoms characteristic of Type 2 diabetes include those found in Type 1 diabetes, as well as repeated infections or skin sores that heal slowly or not at all, generalized tiredness, and tingling or numbness in the hands or feet.