Diabetes mellitus (IPA pronunciation: [ˌdaɪəˈbitəs]). is a metabolic disorder characterized by hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) and other signs, as distinct from a single disease or condition. The World Health Organization recognizes three main forms of diabetes: type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes (occurring during pregnancy), which have similar signs, symptoms, and consequences, but different causes and population distributions. Type 1 is usually due to autoimmune destruction of the pancreatic beta cells which produce insulin. Type 2 is characterized by tissue-wide insulin resistance and varies widely; it sometimes progresses to loss of beta cell function. Gestational diabetes is similar to type 2 diabetes, in that it involves insulin resistance; the hormones of pregnancy cause insulin resistance in those women genetically predisposed to developing this condition.
Types 1 and 2 are incurable chronic conditions, but have been treatable since insulin became medically available in 1921, and are nowadays usually managed with a combination of dietary treatment, tablets (in type 2) and, frequently, insulin supplementation. Gestational diabetes typically resolves with delivery.
Diabetes can cause many complications. Acute complications (hypoglycemia, ketoacidosis or nonketotic hyperosmolar coma) may occur if the disease is not adequately controlled. Serious long-term complications include cardiovascular disease (doubled risk), chronic renal failure (diabetic nephropathy is the main cause of dialysis in developed world adults), retinal damage (which can lead to blindness and is the most significant cause of adult blindness in the non-elderly in the developed world), nerve damage (of several kinds), and microvascular damage, which may cause erectile dysfunction (impotence) and poor healing. Poor healing of wounds, particularly of the feet, can lead to gangrene which can require amputation — the leading cause of non-traumatic amputation in adults in the developed world. Adequate treatment of diabetes, as well as increased emphasis on blood pressure control and lifestyle factors (such as smoking and keeping a healthy body weight), may improve the risk profile of most aforementioned complications.
The term diabetes (Greek: διαβήτης) was coined by Aretaeus of Cappadocia. It is derived from the Greek word διαβαίνειν, diabaínein that literally means "passing through," or "siphon", a reference to one of diabetes' major symptoms—excessive urine production. In 1675 Thomas Willis added the word mellitus to the disease, a word from Latin meaning "honey", a reference to the sweet taste of the urine. This sweet taste had been noticed in urine by the ancient Greeks, Chinese, Egyptians, and Indians. In 1776 Matthew Dobson confirmed that the sweet taste was because of an excess of a kind of sugar in the urine and blood of people with diabetes.
The ancient Indians tested for diabetes by observing whether ants were attracted to a person's urine, and called the ailment "sweet urine disease" (Madhumeha). The Korean, Chinese, and Japanese words for diabetes are based on the same ideographs (糖尿病) and also mean "sweet urine disease".
Diabetes, without qualification, usually refers to diabetes mellitus, but there are several rarer conditions also named diabetes. The most common of these is diabetes insipidus (insipidus meaning "without taste" in Latin) in which the urine is not sweet; it can be caused by either kidney (nephrogenic DI) or pituitary gland (central DI) damage.
The term "type 1 diabetes" has universally replaced several former terms, including childhood-onset diabetes, juvenile diabetes, and insulin-dependent diabetes. "Type 2 diabetes" has also replaced several older terms, including adult-onset diabetes, obesity-related diabetes, and non-insulin-dependent diabetes. Beyond these numbers, there is no agreed standard. Various sources have defined "type 3 diabetes" as, among others:
• Gestational diabetes
• Insulin-resistant type 1 diabetes (or "double diabetes")
• Type 2 diabetes which has progressed to require injected insulin.
• Latent autoimmune diabetes of adults (or LADA or "type 1.5" diabetes)