womens health

Understanding the Early Stages of Diabetes Mellitus: A Comprehensive Review

Diabetes mellitus is a chronic metabolic disease characterized by high levels of glucose in the blood. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), diabetes affects over 420 million people worldwide, and this number is expected to increase in the coming years. In this article, we will review the early stages of diabetes mellitus and its implications for patients’ health.

What is Diabetes Mellitus?

Diabetes mellitus can be classified into two types: type 1 and type 2. Type 1 diabetes occurs when the body’s immune system attacks and destroys insulin-producing cells in the pancreas, leading to an absolute deficiency of insulin production. On the other hand, type 2 diabetes results from a combination of genetic predisposition and lifestyle factors such as obesity, sedentary behavior, and poor diet.

In both types of diabetes, there is impaired glucose uptake by cells due to either insufficient insulin production or resistance to its action. As a result, glucose accumulates in circulation leading to hyperglycemia which damages various organs including eyes, kidneys nerves among others.

Early Symptoms

The early symptoms of diabetes are often mild or go unnoticed until they become more severe. Some common symptoms include:

– Increased thirst

– Frequent urination

– Fatigue

– Blurred vision

– Slow healing wounds

If left untreated these symptoms can progress into more serious complications such as diabetic retinopathy (affecting vision), neuropathy (nerve damage) kidney failure among others.

Screening for Diabetes Mellitus

Given that early detection plays a crucial role in managing diabetes effectively; screening tests have been developed to identify individuals who may be at risk or already have undiagnosed disease.

Blood Glucose Tests – The most commonly used test for diagnosing DM involves measuring fasting blood sugar levels after an overnight fast (FPG). An FPG level of 126 mg/dL or higher on two separate occasions is diagnostic for diabetes.

Glycated Hemoglobin (HbA1c) – This test measures the average blood sugar level over a three-month period. An HbA1c level of 6.5% or higher on two separate occasions is diagnostic for diabetes.

Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT) – This test involves measuring blood glucose levels after drinking a sugary drink. A value of 200mg/dL or higher at two hours post-drink, confirms diagnosis.

Early Intervention and Treatment

Once diagnosed with DM, early intervention and treatment are key to preventing complications from developing later in life. The mainstay of therapy includes lifestyle modifications such as weight loss, regular physical activity, smoking cessation among others; along with medications like metformin and insulin therapy when required.

Future Advances

Research efforts continue to deliver new insights into the pathogenesis of DM which may lead to better therapies that can prevent disease progression and improve outcomes. Some promising areas include:

– Gene editing techniques using CRISPR/Cas9 technology may provide an avenue for curing type 1 diabetes by replacing damaged pancreatic cells.

– Artificial pancreas systems that combine continuous glucose monitoring with automated insulin delivery could revolutionize management strategies.

– Immunomodulatory agents that target inflammation pathways involved in the development of type 2 diabetes show promise in clinical trials.


In conclusion, understanding the early stages of diabetes mellitus is essential for timely detection and management to prevent long-term complications. Screening tests play a crucial role in identifying individuals who may be at risk or already have undiagnosed disease. Early intervention through lifestyle changes coupled with appropriate medical therapy can help maintain glycemic control thereby reducing morbidity associated with this chronic condition. Ongoing research holds great promise for future advances towards improved management strategies including gene editing techniques artificial pancreas systems immunomodulatory agents among others.


1. World Health Organization (WHO). Diabetes Fact Sheet, 2020.

2. American Diabetes Association Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes-2021

3. International Diabetes Federation (IDF) Atlas Ninth Edition 2019

4. Papatheodorou K et al., Screening for type 2 diabetes mellitus to prevent vascular complications: Updated recommendations from the Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care, CMAJ, vol.189(22), pp.E722-E730, June 2017.

5. Sattar N et al., New developments in Type 2 diabetes mellitus and cardiovascular disease prevention: Time to reconsider goals and strategies? Lancet Diab Endocrinol; vol.(8), pp.P305-P315 , April 2020.

6.Liu J et al., CRISPR/Cas systems towards next-generation therapeutics of diabetes and obesity: a review of current progress and future opportunities Theranostics; vol.(10), pp.P4379-P4391 , May 2020.

7.Brown SA et al., Artificial Pancreas Systems: Current Status and Future Directions Am J Med Sci.;vol.(357),pp.P459-P466,June2019.

8.Tripathy D et al.Immunometabolic basis of insulin resistance Expert Rev Endocrinol Metab.;vol.(15),pp.P29-P39,April2020

*Note: this site does not provide medical opinions or diagnosis and should not be relied upon instead of receiving medical attention from a licensed medical professional.

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1WH staff