Diabetes Mellitus is a front runner among the modern day lifestyle diseases. With increasing shift from wholesome natural foods to refined and sugary foods, and from an active lifestyle involving physical activity like walking to sedentary lifestyles and dependence on locomotives for travel, the incidence of obesity and thereby diabetes mellitus (DM to be short) has taken alarming proportions both in developed and developing countries.
Diabetes mellitus (DM) comprises a group of common metabolic disorders which share a common symptom of a blood glucose that is higher than normal. The complex interaction of genetics, environmental factors, and lifestyle choices determine the type of DM a person suffers from. Depending upon the causes that precipitate high glucose levels, any or all of the mechanisms are implicated in the development of DM, namely reduced insulin secretion, decreased glucose utilization, and increased glucose production.
DM affects a variety of organs, causing blockage in blood vessels supplying blood to the heart muscle. When it obstructs the blood vessels of the retina, it can even lead to blindness if not treated. It is also a major cause of end-stage kidney failure, neuropathy, and gangrene.
The knowledge of DM syndrome has existed in India since the prehistoric age and is well described in Ayurvedic texts. DM in Ayurveda is described under ‘Prameha’. The word ‘Prameha’ literally means watering or excessive passing of urine both in quantity and frequency. Ayurveda describes DM as Madhu-meha, which means ‘urine like honey’ or ‘sweet urine’, similar to Diabetes Mellitus which is a Latin term meaning honey-like sweet urine.
The two broad categories of DM are type 1 and type 2.
Type 1 DM results from autoimmune beta cell destruction, which leads to insulin deficiency.
Type 2 DM is characterized by variable degrees of insulin resistance, impaired insulin secretion, and increased glucose production. Distinct genetic and metabolic defects in insulin action and/or secretion give rise to the common symptom of increased glucose level in type 2 DM.
Causative factors: Includes mainly the Kapha aggravating causes as Kapha has the highest tendency to get vitiated in this disorder. But Pitta and Vata can also bring about this disorder independently, as indicated above.
Some of the prominent causes of the commonest form of DM i.e type 2 DM are as below:
The chief symptoms of DM syndrome according to Ayurveda and modern medicine are below (although most patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus are asymptomatic for years):
Other most common symptoms encountered are lethargy, fatigue, urination several times during the night, erectile dysfunction etc.
The age-old proverb ‘prevention is better than cure’ is very applicable in the case of DM (particularly type 2), as it can be effectively prevented from happening if you keep your weight under control, de-stress yourself periodically and follow an active lifestyle!
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