This section is from the book "The Home Hand-Book of Domestic Hygiene and Rational Medicine. Volume 2.", by J. H. Kellogg, M.D.. Also available from Amazon: The Home Hand-Book of Domestic Hygiene and Rational Medicine, Volume 2.
Excessive quantity of urine containing sugar; emaciation; great thirst; dryness of the skin; voracious appetite.
The characteristic feature of this disease is the discharge of enormous quantities of pale urine containing sugar. As much as five or ten quarts of pale, sweetish urine is sometimes discharged in a single day. The presence of sugar in the urine may be demonstrated by the taste, or by means of chemical tests. The latter means is of course the most reliable. The test is so simple that almost any one can apply it. Place in a small test-tube or vial two or three teaspoonfuls of the urine to be tested, and add about an equal quantity of a strong solution of caustic potash. Now add a strong solution of sulphate of copper drop by drop until the blue coagulum or precipitate which is formed is no longer dissolved. Then heat to the boiling point. If sugar is present the blue color will be changed to yellow or orange.
All the symptoms mentioned follow each other as the disease advances. The patient finally dies from exhaustion, or from inflammation of the bones or of some internal organ, which is very apt to occur. In many cases the patient dies of consumption or inflammation of the lungs. The disease usually lasts from one to three years, though under favorable circumstances it may continue for a much longer time. This disease has generally been considered under the head of diseases of the kidneys, but as it is now well known that the sugar found in the urine is not produced by the kidneys, and that whatever is the seat of the disease, the kidneys are not directly involved, it is evidently excluded from dis eases of the urinary organs.
Little is known concerning the real cause of diabetes, and still less satisfactory is the knowledge which we possess respecting the real seat of this disease, notwithstanding the numerous experiments upon animals and almost numberless observations of human beings which have been made with direct reference to the pathology of the disease. It has been quite well established, however, that the most frequent causes of this malady are exposure to cold and wet, physical violence, concussions of the whole body, injuries to the brain and nervous system, mental exhaustion, gluttony, and especially the use of large quantities of sugar. It is probable that dietetic errors are the principal cause of this disease. It has been claimed that diabetes is the result of the use of an exclusively vegetable diet. That this is not the case, however, is clearly shown by the fact that the disease is no more frequent among the majority of nations which subsist almost wholly upon vegetable food than among those that employ diet of the opposite character. A strong argument against this theory is also found in the fact that, in the numerous dietetic experiments which have been made upon animals and human beings in which they have been required to subsist for long periods of time upon a purely vegetable diet, this disease has never been produced. On the other hand, the eminent Dr. Berrenger-Ferroud has given an account of the occurrence of diabetes in an ape, in which he claimed that the only cause of the disease was the attempt to accustom the animal to the addition of a proportion of animal food to his natural diet of fruits and grains. Numerous experiments, however, have shown that when large quantities of sugar are taken into the system, sugar may be found in the urine after a few hours. There is some evidence also to believe that a predisposition to the disease is hereditary. It has been most frequently observed in females.