Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Lessons from the History of Insulin

You would have to be a centenarian to remember what diabetes was like before the discovery of insulin in 1922. 

Type I diabetes in children was a death sentence. They wasted away, grew weak, and suffered indescribably before their inevitable death. They had insatiable thirst and hunger, but trying to satisfy their hunger only made things worse, and they continued to lose weight.

The only treatment available was a rigorous diet (on the order of 400 calories a day with minimal carbohydrates), and all that did was prolong life by a few months.  Patients usually had to be hospitalized to control their intake with carefully measured quantities of unpalatable food.

Intake was adjusted by testing the urine, which was a complicated procedure at the time. Instead of a convenient dipstick, testing involved Benedict’s solution, test tubes, eyedroppers, teaspoons, a bottle for urine, and an aluminum cup. (Much later, urine testing was discarded in favor of the much more accurate blood testing.)

Read Full article at Science Based Medicine

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