Diseases of the Endocrine System

Diabetes Mellitus

Diabetes mellitus results from imbalances in the hormone insulin. Insulin is the hormone that transports glucose from the bloodstream into cells, (particularly muscle and fat cells) thereby decreasing blood sugar levels. People with untreated diabetes mellitus have sweet urine because of high amounts of glucose in their urine. High blood glucose levels occur in type 1 and type 2 diabetes for different reasons.

Type 1 diabetes mellitus (also known as insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus)

Cause: Type 1 diabetes mellitus is caused by a lack of insulin being produced by the pancreas. This could be due to a variety of factors including an injury to the pancreas, an autoimmune disease, an infection resulting in pancreatitis, or a genetic predisposition to diabetes. The main result of a lack of insulin is high blood glucose levels.

Symptoms: People with diabetes may feel more thirsty, hungry, and tired. They may also have to urinate more often, lose weight, and have slow-healing sores, tingling in their feet, or blurred vision. 

Treatment: The main treatment for people with type 1 diabetes mellitus is insulin therapy. Maintaining a healthy diet, weight, and exercising regularly are also recommended. 

Type 2 diabetes mellitus (also known as non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus)

Cause: In this type of diabetes mellitus, insulin production may be normal or even elevated but the tissues in the body do not respond to insulin properly. Type 2 diabetes can result from genetics, lifestyle, and other factors. Obesity often leads to type 2 diabetes (see the obesity link), resulting in high blood glucose levels. Presently we don’t know exactly how the excess fat of obesity causes insulin to become less effective, but it does occur often.

Symptoms:  The symptoms for type 2 diabetes are feeling more thirsty, hungry and tired, having to urinate more often, losing weight without trying, having slow-healing sores, tingling in the feet, or blurred vision. In addition, the skin may darken where it folds or creases, and infections may be more frequent. 

Treatment: To lower the amount of glucose in the blood, a healthy diet, weight, and regular exercise are the primary treatments for type 2 diabetes. Often, patients have to take pills that help their body regulate blood glucose levels.