- Diabetes mellitus (MEL-ih-tus), often referred to as diabetes, is characterized by high blood glucose (sugar) levels that result from the body’s inability to produce enough insulin and/or effectively utilize the insulin.
- Diabetes is a disorder of metabolism (the body's way of digesting food and converting it into energy).
- Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that accounts for five- to 10-percent of all diagnosed cases of diabetes.
- Type 2 diabetes may account for 90- to 95-percent of all diagnosed cases.
- The third type of diabetes occurs in pregnancy and is referred to as gestational diabetes. Left untreated, gestational diabetes can cause health issues for pregnant women and their babies.
- Less common types of diabetes are caused by genetic conditions, medications, pancreatic disorders, infections, and other diseases.
- The classic symptoms of untreated diabetes are weight loss, polyuria (frequent urination), polydipsia (increased thirst), and polyphagia (increased hunger).Symptoms may develop rapidly (weeks or months) in type 1 diabetes, while they usually develop much more slowly and may be subtle or absent in type 2 diabetes.
- Diabetes was one of the first diseases described, with an Egyptian manuscript from c. 1500 BCE mentioning "too great emptying of the urine". The first described cases are believed to be of type 1 diabetes. Indian physicians around the same time identified the disease and classified it as madhumeha or "honey urine", noting the urine would attract ants.
- The term "diabetes" or "to pass through" was first used in 230 BCE by the Greek Appollonius of Memphis. The disease was considered rare during the time of the Roman empire, with Galen commenting he had only seen two cases during his career. This is possibly due the diet and life-style of the ancient people, or because the clinical symptoms were observed during the advanced stage of the disease. Galen named the disease "diarrhea of the urine" (diarrhea urinosa). The earliest surviving work with a detailed reference to diabetes is that of Aretaeus of Cappadocia (2nd or early 3rd century CE). He described the symptoms and the course of the disease, which he attributed to the moisture and coldness, reflecting the beliefs of the "Pneumatic School". He hypothesized a correlation of diabetes with other diseases and he discussed differential diagnosis from the snakebite which also provokes excessive thirst. His work remained unknown in the West until the middle of the 16th century when, in 1552, the first Latin edition was published in Venice.
- Type 1 and type 2 diabetes were identified as separate conditions for the first time by the Indian physicians Sushruta and Charaka in 400-500 CE with type 1 associated with youth and type 2 with being overweight. The term "mellitus" or "from honey" was added by the Briton John Rolle in the late 1700s to separate the condition from diabetes insipidus, which is also associated with frequent urination. Effective treatment was not developed until the early part of the 20th century, when Canadians Frederick Banting and Charles Herbert Best isolated and purified insulin in 1921 and 1922. This was followed by the development of the long-acting insulin NPH in the 1940s.
- The word diabetes (/ˌdaɪ.əˈbiːtiːz/ or /ˌdaɪ.əˈbiːtɨs/) comes from Latin diabētēs, which in turn comes from Ancient Greek διαβήτης (diabētēs) which literally means "a passer through; a siphon." Ancient Greek physician Aretaeus of Cappadocia (fl. 1st century CE) used that word, with the intended meaning "excessive discharge of urine", as the name for the disease. Ultimately, the word comes from Greek διαβαίνειν (diabainein), meaning "to pass through," which is composed of δια- (dia-), meaning "through" and βαίνειν (bainein), meaning "to go". The word "diabetes" is first recorded in English, in the form diabete, in a medical text written around 1425.
- The word mellitus (/mɨˈlaɪtəs/ or /ˈmɛlɨtəs/) comes from the classical Latin word mellītus, meaning "mellite" (i.e. sweetened with honey; honey-sweet). The Latin word comes from mell-, which comes from mel, meaning "honey"; sweetness; pleasant thing, and the suffix -ītus, whose meaning is the same as that of the English suffix "-ite". It was Thomas Willis who in 1675 added "mellitus" to the word "diabetes" as a designation for the disease, when he noticed the urine of a diabetic had a sweet taste (glycosuria). This sweet taste had been noticed in urine by the ancient Greeks, Chinese, Egyptians, Indians, and Persians.
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