The History of Diabetes

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"The History of Diabetes"
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Diabetes treatments are sure much better today than they were hundreds of years or even several years ago. I would have hated to have had diabetes back even several years before, when meters where big and hard to use, and insulin needles were huge sources of pain when injecting. I'd like to take a look back at what diabetes was like many years ago, and tell you just how far diabetes treatments have come!

Back in the year of 1552 BC it was, the very first diabetic case was noted. There was a Third Dynasty physician of Egyptian descent, namely Hesy-Ra. He had a patient way back then that had urination all of the time. It wasn't until 1600 years after that fact that some Greek doctor known as Arateus caught on to an illness that seem to make people literally deteriorate as they become weaker and their flesh was going away. All of these people affected at that point and time, couldn't quit making urine constantly. So it was Arateus who put a name to that known as diabetes. The term diabetes, was like that of a funnel of water that knew no end, and water kept passing through.

Getting into further years ahead here, which was 300 AD, there were scholars of both Indian and Chinese descent of whom discovered that the people with diabetes have terribly sweet urine. And the only way to tell was by tasting. It was soon after this, that the word "mellitus," was added meaning sweet as honey. Mellitus is actually Latin.

Many years forward in time, marching into the 1600's time period, there was an English doctor namely Matthew Dobson was able to come up with a technique of removing the sugars from blood and urine of suspected diabetics. There was a French chemist also involved known as Chevreul, of French origin, that found there was a connection of glucose both in urine and blood at that time.

It wasn't until a century or so later that John Rollo, a scientist, saw that the sugars in blood and urine both had a relation to foods that were eaten. Then it tool another physician of whom was Thomas Cawley, that noticed an autopsy of a patient with diabetes, and how their pancreas was unhealthy, in comparison to a person that had no diabetes. So from then on, the pancreas was known as the cause of having diabetes.

Research was done from that point on until about the middle of the 1800s somewhere. It was at that time that a German medical student, Paul Langerhans lead into the big discovery of pancreas islet cells. At that time, he wasn't able to exactly pinpoint the function of these cells, but he entitled them after his name the Islets of Langerhans. It was about 1889 that there were two Austrian Scientists Mibkowski and Mering removed the pancreas as a test from a dog. The dog kept on urinating constantly. After testing of the dog's urine, the sweet taste was present. The dog also ate constantly and had much thirst. So this theory, really demonstrated that the pancreas was instrumental in diabetes.

It wasn't until the late 1800's that they were testing diabetes treatments for people. All during this time, and until the 1920's, people that had "sugar diabetes," as it was known back then, died. Doctors, before the creation of injectable insulin, put these patients on starvation diets where they could hardly eat at all, and had an emaciated appearance. And even with starvation, life was limited to these affected persons only living a few years, if that. It was actually a boy, Leonard Thompson that was the first ever to try insulin therapy for his diabetes. Until that point, Thompson was slowly dying.

The first insulin made was taken from both pigs and cows. The problem back then in the 1920's was that this insulin was not all pure. There was a lot of complications from using insulin at this point and time.

Moving forward to the 1930s, there was a long-acting insulin made that was combined with protamine, a protein found in fish sperm. The insulin had a duration of 36 hours, and the dose given was also based by your symptoms.

In the 1940s period, there was diabetic complications of both kidney and eye disease that were discovered. The first insulin syringe was also discovered and made from glass. You had to use the needle over and over, boiling it, until it became to dull to inject insulin. Many people that had diabetes at this time took one shot a day, and control of sugars were lacking.

After the 1950s period, many other diabetic complications were found. It was during this decade that the insulin we know as NPH and Lente, the intermediate acting insulins were discovered. You still had to test your urine for glucose, which was not always very accurate unless the blood sugars got super high.

The 1960s brought with it, more changes and the purity of insulins were much more refined. The doctor could take your blood sugars in his office, and insulin was sold either in U-40, U-80, or else U-100. One or two insulin shots were standard over this time period. The diabetic exchange diet was also created in the 60's and Tes-Tape was invented which would change colors on the tape according to levels of sugar. This was a great invention from the test tube urine testing.

In the 1970's, the very first of the blood sugar meters were marketed at last. Along with that, insulin pumps came in too. The meters were big and cumbersome. The meters at this time required a lot of blood drops to even come close to somewhat of an accurate reading. They were not as dependable as the Accu-chek meters now. Other insulins were made in this time period. Insulins that are short-acting were in use. There was Globin, Protamine Zinc Ultra-Lente, and U-100 insulins were placed about the U-40 and the U-80 insulins. Disposable syringes also came in in this time period.

They finally produced human insulin in the 1980's. It was created through DNA technology. The insulin at t his point was much safer, creating less allergic reactions. Insulin pens also came in at this point. The methods of carbohydrate counting were also introduced during the 1980's.

In the 1990's insulin pumps became better and better, helping with tighter control of diabetes. The insulin analog known as lispro, (Humalog rapid acting,) came into existence. There was also the exciting development of many diabetes resources over the internet to help diabetics manage their diabetes.

When we entered the year 2000, continuous glucose monitoring became available. The Glucowatch and other monitoring devices attached to insulin pumps have become useful. Not all insulin pumps have meters attached, but there are some that do. Insulins Lantus and Levemir were also developed as a long acting insulin came into force. Also, the hemoglobin A1C test became available to track longer periods of sugars.

So diabetes has come a long way over the years. In looking back in history, you can be thankful for how much easier it is to control and manage. Technology advancements have made many things possible. Now the next item on the agenda may be the cure!

More about this author: Jennifer Kirkman

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