Diabetes mellitus, commonly referred to as diabetes, is a chronic metabolic disorder characterized by high blood sugar levels over a prolonged period. The condition occurs when the body either does not produce enough insulin or can not effectively use the insulin it produces. Insulin is a hormone that regulates blood sugar as well as other products of digestion of fats, and proteins called amino acids and free fatty acids, by allowing the cells to take up and use these products of digestion from the bloodstream. Insulin is produced by an organ called the pancreas. 


Diabetes mellitus affects more adults than children with no difference in gender. As of 2023, approximately 599 million persons were affected. Adults made up 90% of those affected. 500,000 new cases are diagnosed every year, and this is on the increase.

Diabetes is caused by an interaction between genetic and environmental factors. 

Risk factors include overweight or obesity, unhealthy dietary habits, age 35 or older, family history of diabetes, African, Indian, Asian, Hispanic/Latino, or Pacific Islander, not physically active, because of physical limitations, a sedentary lifestyle, or a job that requires sitting for long periods of time, history of gestational diabetes, a type of diabetes that develops during pregnancy, or gave birth to a baby weighing 4 kg or more, and those born with low birth weight or prematurity.

There are three main types: 

1. Type 1 diabetes: This occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas, leading to little to no insulin production. It often develops in childhood or early adulthood and requires insulin therapy for management.

2. Type 2 diabetes: This is the most common form of diabetes and typically develops in adulthood, although it is increasingly seen in younger individuals. In type 2 diabetes, the body either does not produce enough insulin or becomes resistant to its effects. It can often be managed through lifestyle changes such as diet, exercise, and medication.

3. Gestational diabetes: This type of diabetes occurs during pregnancy when hormonal changes negatively affect insulin production and utilization. It usually resolves after giving birth but increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life.

A fourth type linked to specific causes like drugs and surgical removal of the pancreas, cancers, etc. also exists.

The symptoms of diabetes include feeling more thirsty than usual, urinating often and in large amounts, losing weight without trying, feeling tired and weak, feeling irritable or having other mood changes, blurry vision, slow-healing sores, and getting frequent infections, such as gum, skin, and vaginal infections.

Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to various complications affecting the eyes, kidneys, nerves, and cardiovascular system. Proper management, including medication, blood sugar monitoring, a healthy diet, regular exercise, and lifestyle modifications, is crucial in maintaining optimal blood sugar levels and minimizing the risk of complications. For more information about diabetes, it is best to consult with a healthcare provider for personalized advice.

Dr. Yeibake Weriwoyingipre Silver

Senior Registrar, 

Faculty Of Pediatrics, WACP.

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