How to diagnose diabetes, our infographic showing ancient vs modern

One topic on many minds is diabetes and we thought we would show how far we have come over the years in diagnositcs. This infographic on how to diagnose diabetes should give you lots of insight into it.

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Diabetes is, in a short sentence, people with high levels of glucose in their blood. (FPG = above 126mg/dl and OGTT – above 200mg/dl). The World Health Organization (WHO) has calculated that more than 347 million people worldwide including 2.9 million people from the UK have diabetes. Experts believe that this rise is caused by diet and obesity.

There have been many wonderful and fascinating achievements over the years to help improve life expectancy and how to live with diabetes. It goes as far as when people get diagnosed in today society they would not expect to die from it, they would just expect to have to manage it.

Some examples of fascinating advances; in 1910 English physiologist Sir Edward Albert Sharpey-Schafer’s discovered the importance of insulin, in 1970 the Ames Company produced the first glucose meter, in 1979 the national diabetes data group developed a new diabetes classification system and in 2007 fish oil was found to reduce the risk of type 1 diabetes by 55%. Really fascinating stuff and you can read more at

The Ancient

In ancient times and medieval ages diabetes was usually a death sentence. Going way way back it was taken more from recognisable signs so diagnosis did not really exist.

  1. There were no such things as blood tests
  2. The only samples available were urine and large amounts of it passed through the body
  3. Nothing got sent away, testing consisted of seeing if the urine was sweet
  4. There were no conclusive results, just thoughts and opinions
  5. No treatment was available, leading to eventual death

Some symptoms included: sweet “honey-like” urine which ants loved! Boils on the skin were also common signs. The biggest thing was the passing of large amounts of urine. What I found interesting was that connections with wealthy people had been made. They were more prone to it (maybe they could afford the sweet food!). People also referred to it as “diarrhoea of the kidneys” as it was all thought to be linked to the kidneys at the time.

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The Modern

Modern approaches to diabetes mainly rely upon lifestyle and dietary management, combined with regular monitoring of blood glucose levels. Tests and data help highlight problems early and with the developments made we are able to be accurate with diagnosis of diabetes (both 1 and 2).

  1. Blood tests are used as early sign may to be seen, test like these
  2. Samples get drawn from the body
  3. Samples get sent away for analysis
  4. Results get returned
  5. All tests are confirmed with a second test and the patient moves on to undergo appropriate treatment and mange the diabetic condition

Symptoms may include: fatigue, blurred vision, increased hunger and sores that will not heal.

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Closing thoughts

It is important to understand the role of blood glucose, cholesterol and blood pressure play in the functioning of the human body and to maintain the healthy target levels for each of these.  Diabetes sadly means we are at an increased risk of future health complications which could include; heart disease, kidney failure, lower-extremity amputations and blindness. This is often associated with high blood glucose levels combined with high cholesterol levels and/or high blood pressure.

Most people are in a state of shock, when they first find out that they have diabetes but they soon realise that this doesn’t prevent them from leading a ‘normal life’. Many people today live with diabetes and it’s manageable.

Do you remember being a child and your grandfather having diabetes which ended up destroying his life. At the time it just wasn’t as controllable and treatment was much harsher. But that’s the way things go with the medical world. We advance and we learn.

It is amazing how far we have come over the years but we are still yet to find a cure for diabetes, maybe one day this will happen too. Until then it is recommended to carry out checks as early as possible, the sooner you catch it the less damage it will do.


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