What is Diabetes Mellitus?

Diabetes mellitus is a chronic metabolic disease characterised by an abnormal (beyond normal limits) rise in blood sugar or glucose.

The origin of the word comes from the verb “to pass through”, which indicates the polyuria of diabetics, as water passes through a pipette incessantly, and from the word “sugary” (sweet) from the sweet urine or glycosuria, which characterizes diabetics, as the rise in blood sugar exceeds the renal threshold. The term ”Diabetes” was first introduced by the Greek physician Aretaeus in the 1st century AD and since then the term has been used on a worldwide basis until the present day.

Glucose is a basic source of energy for the human body and the exclusive energy source for the brain. A drop in glucose levels below normal is dangerous for brain function, while a rise above normal becomes toxic to the body’s blood vessels and organs. Based on the newest classification of Diabetes we distinguish 5 major categories: Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus, Monogenic Diabetes, Secondary Diabetes  and Gestational Diabetes. 


What is the pancreas?

The pancreas is functionally divided into the exocrine and endocrine portion.  The endocrine portion or endocrine pancreas is an important endocrine organ, composed of about 1 million tiny glands (endocrine glands are the organs that secrete hormones) the so-called islets of Langerhans.

At least 5 different cell types, α, β, δ, ε, and PP, have been identified in Langerhans islets that produce the following hormones respectively: insulin, glucagon, somatostatin, ghrelin and pancreatic polypeptide. These hormones maintain the balance (homeostasis) of nutrition by regulating every stage of this very basic function for the survival of the individual- from appetite and satiety to the rate of food absorption, storage and metabolism of energy elements.



Diagnosis of Diabetes Mellitus

Diabetes is diagnosed by measuring fasting plasma glucose, two-hour plasma glucose during a 75 g oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT), or glycated hemoglobin (HbA1C).

Haemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) measures the percentage of glucose that is attached to haemoglobin A in red blood cells and shows the average blood sugar 10-12 weeks before the measurement. The diagnosis of diabetes usually needs to be confirmed by 2 tests.