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Diabetes Mellitus

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Alex Mansfield Diabetes Mellitus Diabetes is derived from the Greek word meaning "a passer through or a siphon"; Mellitus comes from the Greek word "sweet". Apparently the Greeks named it thus because of the excessive amounts of urine a diabetic would pass when in a hyperglycaemic state. Diabetes Mellitus comes in two forms, both of which result in the disturbance of carbohydrate, protein and fat metabolism. Insulin is a hormone that enables the body to control blood glucose levels. It is a central hormone in controlling metabolism. It is produced in the endocrine part of the pancreas, which consists of very small clumps of specialised cells (the Islets of Langerhans) spread throughout the organ. Hyperglycaemia results if there is not enough insulin to cause cells to absorb the glucose from the blood or if they don't respond to the insulin. ...read more.


Cells such as the muscle and liver cells that require insulin to permit the take up of glucose from the blood are unable to do so, resulting in a relative insulin deficiency. The main characteristics of this disease are 1) decreased insulin secretion 2) increased lipolysis (the hydrolysis of lipids) 3) increased hepatic glucose production (gluconeogenesis - the conversion of fat, protein and lactate molecules into glucose by the liver.) 4) decreased muscular glucose uptake. All these contribute to the development of hyperglycaemia, which often goes unnoticed for years. Diabetes Mellitus type 2 seems to be genetically inherited, although other factors such as obesity increase the risk of developing it. The first symptoms of diabetes are related to the direct effects of Hyperglycaemia. ...read more.


Distinct types of this are diabetic neuropathy and retinopathy, the damage in both these cases seem to be linked to high glucose levels, which seem to have changed the behaviour of various proteins and so the tissues they are present in. Peripheral neuropathy is caused by damage to the nerve fibres which affects sensation in the feet and lower legs and eventually in the fingers and hands, as feeling decreases so does reaction to damage e.g. Blisters, burns and cuts combined with slower healing thus increasing the risk of serious infection. Diabetic retinopathy is caused by damage to small blood vessels in the retina by high glucose levels. Initially these vessels become leaky, and may become blocked leading to several other difficulties such as swelling in the blood vessels resulting in haemorrhaging of the retina. Alternatively blocked vessels starve the retina of oxygen causing growth of abnormal growth of vessels in the retina. Both of these conditions can lead to blindness. ...read more.

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