Diabetes mellitus (DM) is a chronic condition of enhanced blood sugars in the body in terms of millimoles of glucose in a liter of blood (mmol/l). The normal blood sugar level in a healthy individual ranges between 4 and 7 mmol/l, and in children this range is between 4 and 8 mmol/l. These figures are usually low in the morning and highest after taking meals, however, homeostatic functions of the blood usually maintain the blood glucose level within the normal limits after some time (Beaglehole 2003, p904). After taking a meal, the ideal level should not exceed 9 mmol/l for a time period of 90 minutes, and in children this should not exceed 10 mmol/l. For diabetics, the blood glucose level is outside these normal ranges unless the individuals are treated. When testing a person for diabetes, various blood glucose levels are taken after about eight hours of fasting (Fasting Blood Sugar). Blood sugar levels are then categorized into various classes.
a) Normal – 4 to 5.6 mmol/l
b) Pre-diabetes/ Impaired glucose tolerance 5.6 to 7 mmol/l
c) Diagnosis of diabetes – greater than 7 mmol/l
Glucose is the body’s source of energy for metabolism, and it is controlled and regulated by the hormone insulin that is produced by the Islets of Langerhans (Beta cells), cells found in the pancreas. Generally, insulin regulates the entry and utilization of glucose in body tissues after liver metabolism. When the amount of glucose in blood is higher than normal, insulin regulates the conversion of excess glucose into glycogen that is a storage form of glucose. When the level is lower than normal, another pancreatic hormone glucagon regulates the conversion of glycogen into blood glucose. Diabetes will develop when there is inadequate or no production of insulin by the pancreas (DM type 1/juvenile diabetes/insulin dependent diabetes) or when the body is unresponsive to the produced insulin (DM type 2/insulin resistant diabetes) (Buchanan, Xiang & Peters 2002, p2802). Type 1 versus Type 2 Diabetes DM type 1 is an autoimmune disorder that has a genetic predisposition and affects mainly children and young adults who are less than 30 years old, however, older adults may be affected. It has no sexual preponderance, with an equal incidence in the male and female sex. It affects about 15% of people with diabetes. The exact pathology behind this condition has not been understood clearly, however, environmental