What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs either when the pancreas does not produce enough insulinor when the body cannot make good use of the insulin it produces.


Symptoms of Diabetes

Diabetes is a chronic, progressive disease characterized by elevated levels of blood glucose. Diabetes of all types can lead to complications in many parts of the body and can increase the overall risk of dying prematurely (1).

Diabetes is a serious, chronic disease that occurs either when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin (a hormone that regulates blood glucose), or when the body cannot effectively use the insulin it produces. Raised blood glucose, a common effect of uncontrolled diabetes, may, over time, lead to serious damage to the heart, blood vessels, eyes, kidneys and nerves. More than 400 million people live with diabetes (1).

As discussed previously, diabetes is broadly classified into two categories; type 1 and type 2. Symptoms of both types are usually similar with slight differences. 

Figure 1: Common symptoms of diabetes

Type 1 

Type 1 diabetes is characterized by deficient insulin production in the body. People with type 1 diabetes require daily administration of insulin to regulate the amount of glucose in their blood. If they do not have access to insulin, they cannot survive (1). Common symptoms include (Figure2) (2) :

Figure 2: Symptoms of Type 1 Diabetes

Type 2 

Type 2 diabetes is the most common type of diabetes which accounts for 90% of all cases of diabetes. It results from the body’s ineffective use of insulin. Symptoms may be similar to those of type 1 diabetes but are often less marked or absent. As a result, the disease may go undiagnosed for several years, until complications have already arisen. For many years type 2 diabetes was seen only in adults, but it has begun to occur in children (1). Common symptoms of type-2 diabetes include (Figure 3) (2):

Figure 3: Symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes

Next …

In the next blog you will know the prevalence of diabetes.


1.         World Health Organization. Global report on diabetes. World Health Organization; 2016.

2.         International Diabetes Federation. IDF Diabetes Atlas 8th Edition. International Diabetes Federation; 2017.

Definition of diabetes


Diabetes is not a single disease (1). It is a set of diseases characterized by elevated plasma glucose level (1) due to insufficient insulin production (2). A simplified definition of diabetes can be, diabetes is a disease when body can’t produce enough insulin. From clinical perspective, diabetes mellitus is defined as a metabolic disorder which has multiple aetiology, resulted from insufficient insulin production, defect in insulin action, or both, and is characterized by chronic hyperglycaemia with disturbances of carbohydrate, fat and protein (2).

Aetiologically diabetes is classified in the following ways [Figure1] (3).

Figure 1 : Aetiological classification of diabetes

Diabetes is not a modern phenomenon.

In fact, a very similar condition was described centuries ago by the ancient Romans, Indians, Arabs, and the Greeks. In India, it was called Madhumeha, meaning honey urine. While in Greece, they named it Siphon, which is a reference to increased urination, still an important sign of diabetes today.

Diabetes is a complex disease which affects multiple organs in our body. Today it is diagnosed by way of a blood glucose test, or by an oral glucose tolerance test.

Simply put, diabetes is a term used to describe the body’s inability to produce sufficient amounts of insulin. Insulin is a pancreatic hormone, and functions as a main glucose regulator. It communicates with our liver as well as our muscle and adipose tissue, or in other words, the nervous system and the gastrointestinal tract, to make sure that our glucose levels are balanced because both high and low blood glucose levels are dangerous.

Next …

In the next blog you will know about the symptoms of diabetes.


  1. Dennedy MC, Rizza RA, Dinnen SF. Classification and Diagnosis of Diabetes Mellitus. Endocrinology: Adult and Pediatric. 7 ed: Elsevier Inc.; 2016.
  2. Alberti KGMM, Zimmet PZ. Definition, diagnosis and classification of diabetes mellitus and its complications. Part 1: diagnosis and classification of diabetes mellitus. Provisional report of a WHO Consultation. Diabetic Medicine. 1998;15(7):539-53.
  3. Frier BM, Fisher M. Diabetes Mellitus. In: Colledge NR, Walker BR, Ralston SH, Davidson S, editors. Davidson’s principles and practice of medicine. 21st ed. / the editors, Nicki R. Colledge, Brian R. Walker, Stuart H. Ralston ; illustrated by Robert Britton. ed. Edinburgh ;: Churchill Livingstone/Elsevier; 2010. p. 795-840.

Health Insurance Coverage

For managing disease, health insurance is a strategically good decision. A Health Insurance Policy would normally cover expenses reasonably and necessarily incurred under the following heads in respect of each insured person subject to overall ceiling of sum insured (for all claims during one policy period).

  1. Room, Boarding expenses
  2. Nursing expenses
  3. Fees of surgeon, anesthetist, physician, consultants, specialists
  4. Anesthesia, blood, oxygen, operation theater charges, surgical appliances, medicines, drugs, diagnostic materials, X-ray, Dialysis, chemotherapy, Radio therapy, cost of pace maker, Artificial limbs, cost or organs and similar expenses.

Health Insurance

In the previous post I introduced Life insurance. This section will introduce Health Insurance and its role on Health Management.

Investopedia defines –

Health insurance is a type of insurance coverage that pays for medical and surgical expenses incurred by the insured. Health insurance can reimburse the insured for expenses incurred from illness or injury, or pay the care provider directly.

Health Insurance covers the whole or a part of the risk of a person incurring medical expenses. It is contact between insurance provider (the insurance company) and the individual. On mutual agreement, the insurer (insurance provider) takes certain health risks of the person against a premium. This contact can be renewable or lifelong. Sometimes it is mandatory as defined by the law of some particular country. The time frame, type of health risk, amount of cost that will be covered by the insurance are clearly defined in the contact.

Patients with chronic disease, like – diabetes, heart disease, renal disease are highly suggested to adopt health insurance.