Friday, December 19, 2008

Diabetes Mellitus

Diabetes mellitus is a disease characterized by high levels of glucose (sugar) in the blood, caused by inadequate production of insulin, a hormone produced by the beta cells in the islets of Langerhans in the pancreas and which allows the body to use and store glucose. It is a leading cause of death in the United States and is especially prevalent among African Americans. The treatment of diabetes was revolutionized when F. G. Banting isolated insulin in 1921.

Under normal conditions, blood glucose levels are tightly controlled by insulin, which lowers the amount of glucose in the blood. 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, the absence or insufficient production of insulin causes hyperglycemia, which is high sugar levels. Hyperglycemia symptons are: listlessness, dry mouth, impotence in male, frequently urinating (polyuria), frequently thirsty (polydipsia), frequently hungry (polyphagia), and poor wounds healing.