The Big Diabetes Lie

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Ancient records of diabetes generally contain no reference to its complications involving the nervous system. A few rare exceptions describing autonomic and painful neuropathies are all coming from the Orient. It was not until the 18th century that Western physicians started studying diabetes and its complications. Eventually, the works of the 19th century (de Calvi, Pavy) clearly established the link between diabetes mellitus and diabetic neuropathies. The epochal discovery of insulin in 1921 triggered a wide interest and more systematic approach to research of diabetic complications, leading to S. Fagerberger's conclusion that many of them share the underlying microvascular pathology.

Key Words: History; diabetes; neuropathy; complications. INTRODUCTION

The history of diabetic complications, including neuropathies, cannot be separated from the one of diabetes itself. Ancient texts describing what is believed to be diabetes mellitus represent clinical records of polyuric states associated with increased thirst, muscle wasting, and premature death. In these early texts, neuropathic elements of the clinical picture of diabetes can be found extremely rarely. It was not until the 18th century that neuropathy became recognized as a common complication of diabetes and the subject of scientific interest and systematic studies. The epochal discovery of insulin opened a whole new chapter in the history of diabetes and diabetic neuropathies. However, everyone will agree that the problem of diabetic complications, although extensively studied, is far from being solved.

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