Diabetes mellitus (often simply referred to as "diabetes") is a very commonly occurring metabolic disease, in which the carbohydrates absorbed with the food you eat cannot be fully utilised by the body. The main characteristic is chronic high blood sugar (hyperglycemia). Glucose cannot be absorbed into the cells, due to a lack of insulin, and remains in the blood. More than 8 million people in Germany already suffer from diabetes, and the trend is rising. In addition there are numerous sufferers who have not yet had the disease diagnosed.
The carbohydrate in our food is broken down by the body through a variety of different metabolic processes into the simplest form of sugar, the monosaccharide glucose. It is absorbed into the blood through the intestinal wall and distributed throughout the body. The hormone insulin enables glucose to reach the cells in the body, where it can take over a variety of functions. Insulin is a vital metabolic hormone that controls the metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins and fats.
Diabetes sufferers lack insulin, or insulin has a reduced effect in them. As a result, glucose cannot reach the body's cells and remains in the blood, leading to a raised blood sugar level.
If diabetes is suspected due to symptoms or family history, the diagnosis should be made as a result of various examinations.
In the blood sugar test, the blood sugar is measured when the patient is in a state of fasting. In healthy individuals the value is under 120 mg/dl. A diabetes sufferer is someone who has a level above 120 mg/dl.
Another way to do this is the oral glucose tolerance test. In this 75 g of glucose is given when the patient is in a state of fasting. If the blood sugar is over 200 mg/dl after two hours, diabetes is present.
As well as using a blood sugar test, diabetes can also be diagnosed by measuring the level of sugar in the urine after a meal. Relevant test strips are used to do this.
Up to now a cure is not available.