Home > GOLDEN YEARS > Common Disease > Diabetes Mellitus

Diabetes Mellitus


The pancreas, an organ in our body produces a chemical substance, a hormone known as insulin. Insulin enables tissues in our body to use glucose and this help maintains a normal glucose level. If insulin is insufficient or ineffective the blood glucose will rise.

This condition is called Diabetes Mellitus

Diabetes is classified as

  • Insulin Dependent Diabetes Mellitus (IDDM) or Type I Diabetes and
  • Non-Insulin Dependent Diabetes Mellitus (NIDDM) or Type II Diabetes

Signs And Symptoms

  • Usually found by chance during the search of other problems such as:
    • Visual disturbance
    • Chronic skin infections
    • Delayed wound healing
    • Urinary tract or vaginal infections
    • Numbness in the legs
  • Other symptoms include
    • Thirst
    • Passing a lot of urine and frequently
    • Fatigue
    • Weight loss despite good appetite
    • Muscle weakness
    • Itching without a rash

Risk Factors for Diabetes

  • Overweight / obesity
  • Physical inactivity – sedentary lifestyles
  • Nutritional factors – high intake of fatty food and low intake of dietary fibre pose a risk for diabetes.
  • Hereditary factors – diabetes shows strong familial aggregation.
  • Increasing age
  • Ethnicity – Indians in origin has an increase of occurrence of diabetes


Diabetes complications involve many organs depending on duration of the illness and control of blood sugar level.

Rapid rise in blood sugar (acute emergencies)

  • Drowsy, unconscious (diabetic coma)

Prolonged high blood sugar (chronic)

  • This causes long term damage to
    • Eye – Poor vision, Cataract, bleeding in the eyes leading to blindness
    • Nerve – Numbness or loss of feeling in the hands and feet which can result in injuries without realizing it.
    • Brain – Stroke
    • Kidney – Kidney failure
    • Heart – Heart attack

The good news is that good control of diabetes will help prevent or delay the above complications.


Non Drug Treatment

  • General self care
    • Skin Care
      • Bathe everyday
      • Dry all parts of the body thoroughly
      • Treat cuts and scratches at once – see your doctor if wounds do not heal after 2 – 3 days.
    • Foot Care
      • Wash your feet everyday
      • Dry the feet well especially between the toes
      • Examine your feet daily for any cuts, scratches, blisters, sores or any change in colors. Use a mirror if necessary
      • Trim your toe nails straight across
      • Change your socks every day
      • Do not walk barefooted
      • Always wear soft shoes that fit well, outdoors.
    • Dental Care
    • Regular eye-check ups
    • Avoid alcohol
    • Stop Smoking
  • Diet control
  • Weight control
  • Regular exercise

Drug Treatment

  • Medication
    • Oral Hypoglycemic
    • Insulin

Support Group

Persatuan Diabetes Malaysia (PDM) (www.diabetes.org.my)

Last Review : 26 April 2012
Writer : Dr. Lee Fatt Soon
: Dr. Mohmad bin Salleh
: Dr. Mohd Faudzi bin Abdullah
Reviewed : Dr. A. Khalek bin Abd. Rahman