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Increase in the amount of glucose in the blood due either to failure of the pancreas (an organ in the abdomen, producing digestive juices) to produce enough of the hormone insulin or to the lack of insulin action. This means that sugar accumulates in the blood and body tissues, causing defects in various parts of the body. Often called sugar diabetes.
Persons most commonly affected: Usually people under 30 of both sexes, but it may begin at any age. It can also frequently affect middle aged and elderly particularly if they are obese. Heredity also plays an important part.
Organ or part of body involved: Pancreas
Symptoms and indications: Excessive thirst, fatigue, weight loss and increased appetite, impotence in men, frequent urination, itching genitals, boils, and, if advanced, deterioration of vision. Slow healing of cuts and scrapes is often noticed.
Causes and risk factors: The causes are mostly unknown, although there seems to be an inherited tendency to developing diabetes. However, it may be triggered by stress or viral infection. Some women develop diabetes during pregnancy, but it normally disappears after the baby?s birth. Missing meals may lead to hypoglycaemia (too low a level of glucose in the blood). The sufferer will be hungry and may sweat and become confused. An immediate intake of glucose will usually return them to normal. Too low a level of insulin may lead to coma and death if not corrected. Sufferers of diabetes are at risk of eye and kidney problems, and they have to be very careful to look after their feet, as any foot infection, if not dealt with immediately, may lead to gangrene.
Prevention: Diet and excercise plays a very important part in controlling and containing the disastrous effect of this multifaceted metabolic disorder. Regular exercise can decrease blood glucose levels and increase the body's sensitivity to insulin. Exercise also protects the heart by reducing blood pressure and triglyceride levels. Improved blood glucose levels can delay or reduce the need for glucose-control medications and prevent diabetes-related complications, such as heart and kidney disease, diabetic retinopathy (damage to the light-sensitive portion of the eye), and diabetic peripheral neuropathy (degeneration of nerves serving the legs and arms). Stop smoking and avoid alcohol.