The word diabetes comes from the Latin word diabetes, which in turn, comes from Ancient Greek διαβήτης (diabētēs), which literally can be translated to a siphon. Ancient Greek physicians used that word with the intention of diagnosis polyuria, an excessive amount of urine.


The word mellitus comes from the Latin word mellītus which means sweetened with honey. It is in 1675 that Dr. Thomas Willis combined the words diabetes and mellitus to describe that in some patient the urine had a sweet taste.


Diabetes is recognized now as one of the major causes of early illness and death worldwide. It is estimated that in 2020, 10% of the Canadian population will be affected by Diabetes Mellitus, which comes out to approximately 4 million Canadians. The estimation for type 2 diabetes prevalence worldwide is 6.4 % with a predicted rate of undiagnosed diabetes of as high as 50 % in some areas. Diabetes is often classified has type 1 or type 2 and, for the sake of simplicity, I will continue this classification in this article.


Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) accounts roughly for 90% of patient with diabetes and is considered to be secondary to insulin resistance and pancreatic depletion of insulin. Insulin resistance is present when one’s body does not respond well to insulin, a hormone that is responsible for control of one’s glycemia . Pancreatic depletion can be explained as the pancreas (the organ responsible for insulin secretion) losing its capacity to secrete insulin.


Type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM) is far less common and is generally known as Juvenile Diabetes as it is often, but not exclusively, diagnosed at a very young age, secondary to the pancreas loosing it’s capacity to produce insulin.


The importance of glycemic control  is crucial to prevent common diabetic complication that ranges from the loss of vision, pain, myocardial infarction, to strokes and kidney failure. The current recommendation of the Canadian Diabetes Association is to achieve control in 3-6 months. The definition of control is patient- and case-dependent and can range from below 6.5 to 8.5 mmol/L. The target of each patient’s goal is determined by evaluating his or her social and medical history.


Article written by:

Alexandro R. Zarruk MD, M.Sc, FRCPC


CategoryDiabetes, Type 1, Type 2

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