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Interesting Facts About the History of Diabetes

History doesn’t have to be a bore!

Diabetes was first referred to around 3,000 years ago. And up until just a few decades ago, managing blood sugar in people with diabetes was difficult or even impossible.

While there’s still no cure for diabetes, a look through history shows that we’ve come a long way. Greater knowledge of how diabetes works, plus major discoveries like insulin, mean, that more and more people with diabetes are able to live full lives.

  1. In India, physicians used to refer to diabetes as madhumeha, which translates to ‘honey urine’ since the urine of people with diabetes attracted ants. In fact, to test for diabetes, physicians would analyze urine to see if sugar-loving ants would come into the urine. Today, we know this occurs because extra sugar is expelled from the body through the urine.
  2. Many early treatments were recommended by physicians including tobacco; a “non-irritating” carb and milk diet, made up of mainly rice and milk;  a carb-free diet;  opium; wormseed, lupin, and fenugreek powders; fasting.
  3. Another physician recommended that people with diabetes should stick to a diet made up of 3 percent carbs, 32 percent protein, and 65 percent fat. He also advised against eating garden produce and fruits.
  4. The first patient to ever receive an insulin injection was Leonard Thompson. At the age of 14, he was admitted to the hospital on the verge of going into a diabetic coma. He was given an injection of insulin and continued to use it throughout his life. He lived an additional 13 years after his first treatment.
  5. The first glucose monitors weren’t available for home use until the 1980s. This device gave people with diabetes a way to keep track of their blood sugar levels.
  6. Insulin pumps were invented in the 1990s. They offer a flexible treatment option for people with diabetes.

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