Diabetes mellitus, commonly known as diabetes is a disorder as old as the ancient manuscripts of Egypt, which are believed to be the first record describing the disease. The script describes diabetes as “too great emptying of the urine”. This refers to the classic hallmark symptom of diabetes–-frequent urination.
The other common symptom of the disease is how it got its name– diabetes mellitus.
Diabetes mellitus translates to “pass through sweet”. This was attributed to the symptom that diabetic patients have sweeter urine.
Yes, you read that right. Diabetic patients, for the most part, were diagnosed by their sweet pee. This was due to the higher concentration of glucose in their urine.
Where even Sushruta (6th century BCE), an Indian healer identified diabetes and classified it as “Madhumeha” meaning “sweet urine”. Ancient Indians tested for diabetes by looking at whether ants were attracted to a person’s urine.
Turns out, it’s not just with urine with which you can diagnose diabetes.
Having high levels of glucose in urine, though a classic tell-tale, occurs only at the later stages of the condition, where the disorder has gone out of hand. Blood tests are common, but they still need some sort of supervision.
But with this latest news, it turns out that you can diagnose the disease in just a puff of air.
Students from the Biomedical Engineering department at the St Peter’s Institute of Higher Education, Chennai, have innovated a device that can detect diabetes using a breathalyser. It will only require the patient to breathe into the device to determine if they have diabetes. The device can also be used to determine their sugar levels.
The students were mentored by their guide, Dr K Kantharaj, who told The Indian Express, “Through my experience as a doctor, I’ve found that a diabetic person’s breath contains acetone and the device measures the acetone levels that can be used to determine the diabetes level. That’s why I suggested that the students could work on a device like an alcohol breathalyser.”
The project titled “Prototype Development of Gluco L” was conducted under the government scheme – Support for Entrepreneurial and Managerial Development of SMEs Through Incubators.
G Gnancy Subha and M Fazilath, both final year Biomedical Engineering students, had taken about three to four months to develop the device and have tested it on about 150-200 people in and around the campus. Their study yielded 90 percent accuracy in results.
“We’re now looking for funding so that we can patent the device and make it available to people,” said Gnancy.
With prevention being better than cure, detection seems just as important.
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)