In celebration of World Diabetes Day on November 14, we provide a refresher on the most interesting things about diabetes aka sugar diabetes aka diabetes mellitus. The continuing effort to provide effective and affordable treatment programs aims to address the situation of more than 442 million people around the world who live with diabetes.
From the Archives
- The Egyptain physician Hesy-Ra is credited with the earliest written record of diabetes, a reference to symptoms of frequent urination, found in the Egyptian Ebers papyrus circa in 1552 BC.
- Aretaeus of Cappodocia (81-133 A.D), a Greek physician, is credited with the creation of the term “diabetes”. His description of the disease was one with “symptoms of constant thirst, excessive urination, and weight loss”.
- “Water tasters” of the ancient times were people who tasted if urine was sweet, the test for diabetes then. Another test was to see if ants or flies were attracted to urine.
- One hospital treatment developed by Dr Frederick M Allen in 1916 used a mixture of whiskey and black coffee to eliminate the sugar from urine. Said mixture was given every 2 hours, and the sugar would disappear within 5 days.
- Before the discovery of insulin in 1921, starvation or semi-starvation was the predominant treatment.
- Primary causes of diabetes in the 21st century are rapid increases in weight, obesity and physical inactivity.
- There are different types of diabetes
- Type 1 diabetes: lack of insulin production; sometimes called juvenile diabetes as it is present at birth or develops in children
- Type 2 diabetes: body's ineffective use of insulin; also called “adult onset” diabetes; may not have any symptoms
- Gestational diabetes: characterized by hyperglycaemia, or raised blood sugar, first detected during pregnancy
- Type 2 diabetes accounts for 90% of diabetes cases around the world.
- Diabetes can be prevented with moderate weight loss, daily moderate-intensity physical activity such as brisk walking and a healthy diet.
- Proper treatment and effective control of diabetes can reduce the risk of complications such as blindness, amputation and kidney failure, and also prevent complications from becoming aggravated.
- Research shows that because of lack of awareness about diabetes and its symptoms, about one third of all people with diabetes do not know they have the disease.
- Risk factorsinclude
- being overweight or obese
- having a family history of diabetes
- being of African American, American Indian, Asian American, Pacific Islander or Hispanic/Latino heritage
- having a prior history of gestational diabetes
- having high blood pressure, high cholesterol and/or being physically inactive
- The common symptoms, according to the American Diabetes Association, include
- Urinating often
- Feeling very thirsty
- Feeling very hungry – even though you are eating
- Extreme fatigue
- Blurry vision
- Cuts/bruises that are slow to heal
- Weight loss – even though you are eating more (type 1)
- Tingling, pain, or numbness in the hands/feet (type 2)
Keeping an eye on all the usual signs and symptoms is a good guiding principle for managing diabetes and its effects on your body and your life. Wellness for diabetes patients can be achieved through strict compliance with dietary requirements and physical fitness minimums. And because diabetes can strike anyone, knowing the basics is the best way to stay on the health and wellness track.
Sources & References
Woolley, E. [2018, September]. 25 Interesting Facts About Diabetes. Retrieved from
Woolley, E. [2017, October]. What is Sugar Diabetes? Retrieved from
World Health Organization . 10 facts about diabetes.
Retrieved from http://www.who.int/features/factfiles/diabetes/01_en.html
Molland, J. [2016, November]. 10 Things You Need to Know About Diabetes. Retrieved from
Penner, E. [2014, November]. 25 THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT DIABETES.
Joslin Diabetes Center. Ten Things You Might Not Know About Diabetes.