Origin of the term ‘diabetes’
The term ‘diabetes’ comes from the ‘diabetes mellitus’. This is derived from the Greek word ‘diabetes’ meaning siphon (to pass through) and the Latin word ‘mellitus’ meaning sweet or honeyed. This is because excess sugar is found in both blood and urine when someone has diabetes. In the 17th century, it was known as “the pissing evil”.
Apollonious of Memphis coined the term ‘diabetes’ around 250 B.C. It was first recorded in English in the form diabete, found in a medical text written around 1425. Thomas Willis added the term ‘mellitus’ to the word ‘diabetes’ in 1675. This is because of the sweet taste of urine. The sweet taste of urine has been noticed by ancient Greeks, Chinese, Egyptians, Indians, and Persians over the years, as shown in their respective literature.
History of the treatment of diabetes
The pioneers of diabetes treatment were Sushruta, Arataeus and Thomas Willis. Exercise, preferably on horseback, was suggested by Greek physicians in order to alleviate excess urination. There were other forms of therapy for diabetes, such as wine, overfeeding to compensate for loss of fluid weight, and starvation diet.
It was in 1776 when Matthew Dobson confirmed that the sweet taste of urine was because of the excess of a kind of sugar in the urine and blood of people with diabetes.
During the ancient and medieval times, diabetes was considered deadly. Arateus attempted to treat it but could not get a good outcome. Sushrata, an Indian healer, identified diabetes and classified it as “madnumeha”. Madhu meant honey and the combined term meant sweet urine. Ancient Indians tested for diabetes by observing whether ants were attracted to a person’s urine.
Rise of Diabetes in the Philippines
According to the report of Bohol Standard in 2008, one out of every five Filipinos living in the Philippines has diabetes. In addition, a Philippine Cardiovascular Outcome Study on Diabetes Mellitus in 2008 showed that “20.6 percent of adults aged 30 and above were found to be diabetic.” In comparison, only 3.9 percent of Filipinos had diabetes in 1998.
Reasons for the Rise in Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes
Filipino pediatric endocrinologist Sioksoan Chan-Cua stated that children as young as 5 years old are being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, an incident which is occurring more frequently across the world.
While there is no definitive answer for the rise of type 1 diabetes in the Philippines or across the globe, experts are theorizing that it may be because of the following reasons:
- More viruses attacking beta cells
- Changes in immunity
- Gluten intolerance
- Living too hygienically
- Babies being born too big and growing too-quickly, which overpowers the pancreas
For type 2 diabetes, experts theorize that its rise is because of environmental factors such as:
- Poor diet
- Lack of exercise
- Increase in obesity
- Lack of knowledge in making healthy lifestyle choices
While the prevalence of diabetes in the Philippines is still low on a worldwide scale, it is projected to rapidly rise. A Global Prevalence of Diabetes report showed estimates for the year 2000 and projections for the year 2030 in relation to the prevalence of diabetes.
For the year 2000, the population of diabetes in the Philippines did not make it to the top 10. However, the projected rate for 2030, which is based on the current trends, showed that India, China and U.S. are still the top three in diabetes prevalence but with the addition of the Philippines at number 9, having an estimated 7.8 million people living with diabetes by that time.
Low Diabetes Awareness among Filipino people
The low level of diabetes awareness among Filipinos is one of the problems that resulted in the increase of diabetes. This low level of awareness may be influenced by some misconceptions. According to Dr. Ferrer from Davao Medical Centre, one misconception is the belief that an overweight child is a healthy child and this is simply not true.
Another cause is that Filipinos have a lack of knowledge on the devastating consequences of diabetes. Diabetes is often called the “silent killer” among the Filipinos because they are often unaware of the complications that come from an unhealthy lifestyle.
You can ask your doctor regarding your risk of diabetes or you can visit our Certified Doctors page for a list of diabetes experts.