Diabetes mellitus (DM) is a metabolic condition characterised by elevated levels of blood glucose resulting from insulin deficiency or the body’s inability to use insulin. Glucose is important for the optimal function of the body and its level (whether high or low) can pose danger to health.
This chronic condition is a leading cause of death worldwide. From the WHO reports, 422 million people worldwide suffer from diabetes. It’s more common in low-and middle-income countries.
Common symptoms of DM are Increased thirst, fatigue, frequent urination, blurred vision and increased hunger.
Types of Diabetes Mellitus
There are three common types of Diabetes mellitus.
Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus
Also called Juvenile diabetes, Type 1 DM is where the insulin-producing beta cells of the pancreas are attacked by the immune system. This is prevalent in children and young people.
Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus
Type 2 DM refers to when there’s resistance to insulin action or inadequate insulin secretion. This is the commonest type of DM. It can occur both in adults and children
Gestational Diabetes Mellitus (GDM)
GDM is when a pregnant woman becomes insensitive to insulin. It usually occurs in obese or overweight pregnant women and may later develop into Type 2 DM in some women.
Treatments for Diabetes Mellitus
The treatment for DM varies depending on the type.
In type 1 DM and some type 2 DM patients who can not produce insulin naturally, synthetic insulin injections can suffice. There are different types of insulin prescribed to patients depending on their age, activity and how the period insulin lasts in their body. The different types are:
Insulin is not taken orally but delivered through methods such as syringes, insulin pumps, injection pens etc.
2. Non-Insulin medications
Non-insulin medications such as Metformin, sulfonylureas and SGLT2 inhibitors are the option for type 2 DM patients. They all aid in lowering blood glucose levels through different mechanisms. Metformin works by reducing the quantity of glucose produced by the liver. Sulfonylureas stimulate increased production of insulin. SGLT2 inhibitors aid in the excretion of excess glucose in urine.
There are many other non-insulin medications with different mechanisms of action. Your doctor will help choose the best for you.
3. Gene therapy
Though still under preclinical trials, gene therapy using lentiviral vectors is being used to induce the production of Insulin from the liver of diabetic rats. From the reports in this study, the use of lentiviral vectors showed “long-lasting normoglycemia, accompanied by a transdifferentiation of the liver cells into a β-cell like cell type containing insulin secretory granules”
With GMP lentivirus production and further laboratory studies, a cure for type 2 DM in humans is imminent.
4. Lifestyle modification
One can control Type 2 DM with lifestyle changes. It’s important to live a healthy life to prevent the worsening of the diagnosis. Some lifestyle modifications for diabetics are:
- Regular physical exercise
- Eat healthy meals
- Weight loss
Regularly check your blood glucose levels and visit your doctor for check-ups. If you have any complaints concerning your medications refer to your doctor.