The full name 'diabetes mellitus' derives from the Greek word 'diabetes' meaning siphon - to pass through, and 'mellitus,' the Latin for honeyed or sweet. It refers to a major symptom of diabetes - sugar in the urine. Diabetes has been a recognised condition for over 3,500 years.
Diabetes is common, and more than 2 million people in the UK are known to have the condition (statistics supplied by Diabetes UK). However, at least one million people are believed to have diabetes but don't realise it. More than three-quarters of those with diabetes have what is now called 'type 2 diabetes mellitus'. This used to be known as 'non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM)' or 'maturity-onset diabetes mellitus'. The remainder have 'type 1 diabetes mellitus', which used to be known as 'insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus'.
It is easy to get tested for diabetes nowadays and a simple blood or urine test will detect if you have it or not. Although it is incurable, diabetes can be controlled with drugs so that the sufferer can live a normal life.