Synonyms in a broader sense

Diabetes mellitus, diabetes English: diabetes


The term diabetes mellitus comes from Latin or Greek and means “honey-sweet flow”. This name comes from the fact that sufferers excrete a lot of sugar in their urine, which in the past helped doctors to diagnose it by simply tasting it. Diabetes mellitus is only an umbrella term for various metabolic diseases.

There are many different types of diabetes, all of which have in common that for some reason there is a lack of insulin in the body. As this is the most important hormone in the regulation of blood sugar, the result is an elevated blood sugar level, which in the long term can lead to a variety of secondary diseases. The most common types are diabetes type 1, also known as adolescent diabetes, which is based on an absolute insulin deficiency, diabetes type 2, also known as adult onset diabetes, which is based on a relative insulin deficiency or insulin resistance, and gestational diabetes.

According to estimates from 2007, approximately 246 million people worldwide were suffering from diabetes mellitus at that time, of which about 7 million lived in Germany. This means that approximately 8.9% of the population is affected. In addition, however, there is probably a very high number of unreported cases, as it is assumed that among adults almost half of diabetics go undetected.

Among those over 65 years of age, it is estimated that 20% are diagnosed with diabetes mellitus. According to projections, it is not unlikely that the number of people with diabetes will double again within the next 10 years. This is mainly due to the fact that only about every 20th person affected has type 1 diabetes and the remaining cases, with very few exceptions, are type 2 diabetes. Since this type is mainly favoured by risk factors of the modern lifestyle, such as overweight and lack of exercise, the number of cases will increase rapidly.


Causes for diabetes are manifold. Depending on the origin of diabetes, the disease is divided into different types. Most common are types 1 and 2 and gestational diabetes.

Diabetes type 1 is an autoimmune disease and is based on an absolute lack of insulin. This means that the hormone insulin, which is responsible for regulating blood sugar levels, is not produced by the body at all or not produced in sufficient quantities. Type 2 diabetes is based on a relative insulin deficiency.

This means that the body still produces insulin, but it can no longer meet its needs. This can either be because the need is increased for some reason or because the target structures, in this case the membranes of the cells to which the insulin is to “dock”, are no longer sufficiently sensitive to the hormone. This is known as insulin resistance.

This type is most frequently found in very overweight people and those with a genetic predisposition. Pregnancy can also cause diabetes mellitus and affects up to 3% of all pregnant women. However, unlike the other types, it usually disappears completely after the end of the pregnancy. In addition, there are many other reasons for diabetes: diseases of the pancreas, other hormonal disorders, medication, infections, genetic defects of B cells or insulin secretion or other syndromes that bring about this clinical picture.