"Diabetes mellitus" gets it’s name from the ancient Greek word for “siphon” (a kind of tube) because early physicians noted that diabetics tend to be unusually thirsty and to urinate a lot. The “mellitus” part of the term is from the Latin version of the ancient Greek word for honey, used because doctors in centuries past diagnosed the disease by the sweet taste of the patient’s urine. Diabetes impairs the body’s ability to burn the fuel or glucose it gets from food for energy. Glucose is carried to the body’s cells by the blood, but the cells need insulin, which is made by the pancreas, to allow glucose to move inside. Without insulin, glucose accumulates in the blood and then is dumped into the urine by the kidneys. The hyperglycemia resulting from diabetes places individuals with this disease at risk for developing microvascular diseases including retinopathy and nephropathy, macrovascular disease, and various neuropathies (both autonomic and peripheral).
Diabetes mellitus is a group of metabolic diseases resulting from defects in insulin secretion, insulin action, or both. This sometimes happens because the cells of the pancreas that make insulin- the beta cells- are mostly or entirely destroyed by the body’s own immune system. The patient then needs insulin injections to survive and is diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. In type 2 diabetes, the person’s beta cells do make insulin, but the patient’s tissues are not sensitive enough to the hormone and use it inefficiently.
Many Complications of Diabetes Can Be Prevented
Early detection, improved delivery of care, and better self-management are key strategies for preventing the following diabetes-related complications:
Eye disease and blindness. Each year in the US, an estimated 12,000- 24,000 people become blind because of diabetic eye disease. Appropriate screening and care could prevent up to 90% of diabetes-related blindness. However, only 60% of people with diabetes receive annual dilated eye exams.
Kidney disease. Each year in the US, about 33,000 people with diabetes develop kidney failure, and more than 100,000 are treated for this condition. Treatment to better control blood pressure and blood glucose levels could reduce diabetes-related kidney failure by 50%.
Amputations. About 86,000 people in the US undergo diabetes-related lower-extremity amputations each year. Over half of these amputations could be prevented with regular examinations and patient education.
Complications of pregnancy. Women with pre-existing diabetes give birth to more than 18,000 babies in the US each year. Preconception diabetes care for these mothers can prevent diabetes-related health problems for both mothers and infants.
Flu- and Pneumonia- related death. Each year in the US, 10,000- 30,000 people with diabetes die of complications of flu and pneumonia; they are roughly three times more likely to die of these complications than people without diabetes. However, only 54% of people with diabetes get an annual flu shot (15).
Diabetes & Pre-Diabetes And Exercise
Exercise has long been recognized as an important component of diabetes care (10). Benefits for diabetes are seen with both acute and chronic exercise. Acute bouts of exercise can improve blood glucose, particularly in those with type 2 diabetes (11). The response of blood glucose to exercise is related to pre-exercise blood glucose level as well as the duration and intensity of exercise. Several studies in type 2 diabetes have demonstrated a reduction in blood glucose levels that is sustained into the post-exercise period following mild to moderate exercise (13). The reduction in blood glucose is attributed to an attenuation of hepatic glucose production with muscle glucose utilization increasing normally (13).
Following exercise training, insulin-mediated glucose disposal is improved.
Insulin sensitivity of both skeletal muscle and adipose tissue can improve with or without a change in body composition (9). There are several mechanisms by which exercise may improve insulin sensitivity, including changes in body composition, muscle mass, capillary density, and glucose transporters in muscle (GLUT 4) (2). The effect of exercise on insulin action is lost within a few days, once again emphasizing the importance of consistent exercise participation (7).
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If you have Diabetes, learn about how Diabetes is a chronic disease which is eligible to receive a Medicare Rebate when seeing an Accredited Exercise Physiologist:
Did you know you could get up to 50% off with a Medicare Rebate?
Learn how an Accredited Exercise Physiologist can help you to begin and maintain exercise in your life, so you can enjoy the health benefits of Exercise for Diabetes:
What Does an Exercise Physiologist Do?