Diabetes mellitus is a condition in which the level of sugar (glucose) in the blood is too high. Blood glucose is normally carefully controlled by a hormone, insulin, which is secreted from the pancreas gland. If there is insufficient or ineffective insulin in the body (as in diabetes), the glucose obtained from food cannot be stored or used for energy. Consequently, its level in the blood remains high. This is known as hyperglycaemia. The raised blood glucose causes a variety of symptoms (fig 1), and if the diabetes remains uncontrolled, there may be damage to some of the body organs such as the eyes, nerves, kidney and feet.
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