Diabetes was tested for centuries ago by physicians tasting urine to see if it was sweet; a sign that there was glucose in it, says About.com. Another ancient test involved seeing if insects were attracted to the urine, denoting high sugar content.
Diabetes was recognized as a disease centuries before physicians understood exactly what is was or had a name for it, explains About.com; however, they did know that symptoms included frequent urination and weight loss. The earliest recorded cases of diabetes date back to 1500 BCE in Egypt. Because diabetes causes frequent urination, the Greeks gave it its name in the first century CE, meaning "to pass through." However, the Greeks thought that the disease was caused by a snake bite. Many misconceptions followed this disease, such as the idea that sugar could help cure it, or that starvation was a viable treatment.
It wasn't until the 1900s that doctors discovered the role of the pancreas in the disease and the importance of a low-carbohydrate diet, according to About.com. It was around the same time that Dr. Priscilla White started treating and researching pregnancy diabetes, making a significant impact on the survival rate of unborn babies. By 1936, diabetes was divided into the categories of type I and type II.