Diabetes Mellitus; a silent killer

Testing for diabetes mellitus
Testing for diabetes mellitus

Before we run along defining diabetes mellitus lets understand what we mean when we say a disease or a condition is a “silent killer”.
A silent killer disease is one that causes such changes in the body that is considered minimal or almost unnoticeable, these changes are the ones we can easily adapt to and assume is nothing serious but over time they accumulate and develop to a stage of decompensation i.e. a stage where we can no longer adapt, this stage of decompensation is expensive and difficult to control and eventually leads to death. Diabetes mellitus is one of many several diseases that can eat away our lives slowly without us knowing.
What is diabetes mellitus? To fully understand what diabetes mellitus is we need to understand the normal human anatomy and physiology. We’ll be looking at an organ called the pancreas (located in the abdomen and produces a substance called insulin) and a nutrient called glucose ,a product of the popular carbohydrate or sugar, majorly found in foods like bread, rice and beans (yes! beans contains a high amount of carbohydrate, though a good source of protein too)).
When we eat carbohydrate or sugar rich food, they are broken down in the gastrointestinal tract (GIT) into glucose, glucose is then transported through the intestine into the blood, at this point the pancreas is signaled and it releases insulin, insulin causes the movement or uptake of glucose into the cell where it is required for energy production to run different metabolic processes.
Now that we understand the interrelationship between glucose and insulin we can go ahead and define diabetes mellitus as a metabolic disorder or a clinical syndrome caused by relative or absolute deficiency of insulin and characterized by disorder of carbohydrate, lipid and protein metabolism. Simply put, in the event of lack of insulin or lack of response of the cells to insulin there is disorder of nutrition affecting not only but majorly glucose metabolism along with other nutrients, this leads to a series of clinical signs and symptoms that we’ll discuss later.
Diabetes mellitus (DM) should not be confused with Diabetes Insipidus, a condition that occurs as a result of deficiency of a pituitary hormone called vasopressin (or anti diuretic hormone) that regulates kidney function.
From our definition we see “absolute and relative deficiency”, based on this we have two major types of diabetes mellitus.
1. Type 1 or insulin dependent diabetes mellitus
2. Type 2 or insulin resistant diabetes mellitus
There are other types i.e. gestational DM, drug induced DM, infection induced DM etc. But for the sake of simplicity we’ll stick to the two major types above.
So what exactly happens when one gets diabetes mellitus, the pancreas stops producing enough insulin in response to increase blood glucose as in the case of type 1 diabetes mellitus or the pancreas actually does produce enough insulin but the insulin receptors on the cells are not responsive to it as in type 2 diabetes mellitus, this leads to an accumulation of glucose in the blood also known as increased blood sugar, the excess glucose will be passed out in the urine this leads to a condition known as polyuria because glucose pulls water along with it.
Polyuria is increased urine production in excess of normal. Polyuria leads to polydipsia; this is excessive water drinking due to increased thirst. Also as we understand, glucose is a source of energy for the cells;in diabetes mellitus these cells are not getting the required glucose therefore the patient will feel very hungry despite eating a lot (polyphagia), the patient will also feel very tired and fatigued. Over time the patient starts getting fungal infection especially around the fingers and toes, wounds tend to heal slowly and poorly, vision gets blurry and in case of type 1 diabetes mellitus there may be unplanned weight loss. Slowly, nervous and cardiovascular complications develop.
If you start to feel unusually tired, unusually thirsty and urinating a lot, you should see a doctor. Diabetes mellitus, though not curable, can be well managed and even prevented. When you see a doctor he will ask a couple of question pertaining to your lifestyle and history and do some tests, these tests include checking your blood for glucose levels. If your blood glucose level is high he will recommend some lifestyle changes , you may be advised to exercise more often, modify your diet, quit alcohol consumption and smoking. At higher glucose levels, some drugs that will help control your blood sugar level may also be recommended depending on the type of diabetes mellitus.
Keeping the blood sugar at a targeted range will prevent complications of diabetes mellitus from occurring. You can also monitor your blood sugar personally using a glucometer.
Prevention of diabetes mellitus all together is important especially if you have a relative with the disease; it is quite easy and majorly just requires:
1. Living a more active lifestyle, mild exercises like jogging or walking as much as 3-5times per week for 30 to 45 minutes
2. Eat healthy balanced diet: eat more fibers and whole grain and stay away from fast food and food that causes sudden spike in blood sugar.
3. Avoid habits like drinking alcohol and smoking.
4. Lose any extra weight.
5. Go for regular checkups.

Akingbade Onaopemipo

The negative effect of cigarette smoking on your health

Dangers of smoking
Dangers of smoking

There’s no way around it. Smoking is bad for your health. Smoking harms nearly every organ of the body.
Your smoke is also bad for other people, they breathe in your smoke second-hand and can get many of the same problems as smokers.
Cigarette contains more than 7000 chemicals, of which at least 250 are known to be harmful. Of the harmful substances, at least 69 are known to cause cancer.
Consequently, the harmful effects cannot be over-emphasized. Below are some ways smoking affect health;

How does smoking result in death?
Cigarette smoking increases risk for death from all causes in men and women.
Smoking causes about 90% (or 9 out of 10) of all lung cancer deaths in men and women.

How does smoking affect my heart and blood vessels?
The chemicals in tobacco smoke harm your blood vessels and affect the function of the heart. This damage increases the risk for;
1. Atherosclerosis: a disease in which a waxy substance called plaque builds up in your arteries
2. Aneurysms: which are bulging blood vessels that can burst and cause death
3. Coronary artery disease (CHD), narrow or blocked arteries around the heart
4. Heart attack and damage to your arteries
5. Heart-related chest pain
6. High blood pressure
7. Coronary Heart disease: A condition in which platelets (components of the blood that prevents excessive bleeding) stick together along with proteins to form clots which can then get stuck in the plaque in the walls of arteries of the heart and cause heart attack
8. Peripheral arterial disease (PAD), a condition in which plaque builds up in the arteries that carry blood to the head and limbs.
9.Stroke: which is sudden death of brain cells caused by blood clots or bleeding. Smoking increases the risk for stroke.

How does smoking affect my lungs and breathing?
Every cigarette you smoke damages your breathing and scars your lungs. Smoking causes;
1. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD): a disease that gets worse over time and causes wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness, and other symptoms. About 80% of deaths from COPD are caused by smoking.
2. Emphysema: a condition in which the walls between the air sacs in your lungs lose their ability to stretch and shrink back. Your lung tissue is destroyed, making it difficult or impossible to breathe.
3. Chronic bronchitis: which causes swelling of the lining of your bronchial tubes. When this happens, less air flows to and from your lungs.
4. Pneumonia
5. Asthma. Also, people with asthma can suffer severe attacks when around cigarette smoke.

How does smoking affect my vision?

Smoking is as bad for your eyes as it is for the rest of your body. It results in the following;
1. Age-related macular degeneration (damage to a small part close to the retina involved in vision)
2. Cataract: which is clouding of the eyes’ lens making it difficult for you to see,
3. Optic nerve damage
All of the above can lead to blindness.

How does smoking affect my bones?
Smoking reduces the density of the bones.
Smoking increases your risk for osteoporosis, a condition in which bones weaken and become more likely to fracture.

How does smoking affect my teeth?
Smoking can cause tooth loss. It can also cause gum problems.

How does smoking cause infertility and birth problems?
Smoking can make it harder for a woman to become pregnant and can affect her baby’s health before and after birth. Smoking increases risks for;
Ectopic pregnancy (pregnancy outside the womb)
Preterm (early) delivery
Stillbirth (death of the baby before birth)
Low birth weight
Sudden infant death syndrome (known as SIDS or crib death)
Smoking can also affect men’s sperm, which can reduce fertility and also increase risks for birth defects and miscarriage.

How does smoking cause cancer?
Smoking can cause cancer almost anywhere in your body;
Bladder
Blood (acute myeloid leukaemia)
Cervix
Colon and rectum (colorectal)
Esophagus
Kidney and ureter
Larynx
Liver
Oropharynx (includes parts of the throat, tongue, soft palate, and the tonsils)
Pancreas
Stomach
Trachea, bronchus, and lung
Smoking also increases the risk of dying from cancer and other diseases in cancer patients and survivors.
If nobody smoked, one of every three cancer deaths would not happen.

Smoking and auto immune diseases
The immune system is the body’s way of protecting itself from infection and disease. Smoking compromises the immune system, making smokers more susceptible to infections.
Smoking doubles your risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis. Smoking has recently been linked to type 2 diabetes.

Why you should quit smoking?
Your risk of developing the diseases listed will be reduced or will be the same as with non-smokers.