Common Diabetes Myths Debunked
Diabetes is one of the most common diseases to affect people across the world. With over 463 million active cases worldwide, it encompasses nearly 8.8% of the adult population. Diabetes mellitus, as formally known, is categorized as type 1 and type 2. We discuss the nature of each type in further detail later in the article. However, the common factor is the inability of the body to store glucose. This is due to a lack of insulin, resistance of the body to insulin, or a combination of both.
A complicating factor happens to be diabetes myths. Misinformation causes problems in treatment and can even result in serious complications for patients. Despite a wealth of information being available, a lot of people still believe in common diabetes myths.With a disease that's so common, diabetes myths and rumors about this disease are plenty. We look at a few common diabetes myths concerning both type 1 and type 2, to help you separate fact from fiction.
Myths & Facts About Type 1 diabetes
Type 1 diabetes is also called early onset diabetes. It makes up about 10% of the total diabetes cases across the world. Type 1 diabetes is more commonly seen in children and younger populations. This type of diabetes is characterized by the destruction of insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas. While the real cause for the disease still remains unknown, type 1 diabetes has a strong genetic and autoimmune link. In several cases, the immune system attacks and destroys the insulin producing cells. With the body rendered incapable of producing sufficient insulin, glucose quickly builds up in the bloodstream. This is addressed by administering artificial insulin.
Type 1 diabetes is incorrectly referred to as "the bad kind of diabetes". While both types could be equally serious, let's take a look at common type 1 diabetes myths.
Myth 1: Only young people & and children get type 1 diabetes.
Some of the most common myths surrounding type 1 diabetes pertains to the age group it affects. While a majority of type 1 diabetes patients are young, it in no way means you cannot get if you're older. Type 1 diabetes is caused by an autoimmune reaction that destroys the insulin producing cells in the pancreas. Such an event is not time bound and could occur at any point in someone's life.
Myth 2: You can never eat sweets if you have type 1 diabetes.
With modern technology to the rescue, you can count calories. This helps people calculate the amount of insulin required to maintain an optimal blood glucose level. This means people can eat slices of cake and even ice cream, provided they monitor their carbohydrate intake. In cases of insulin overdose, the doctor recommends a sweet or two to prevent hypoglycemia.
Myth 3: Insulin helps you eat anything and you shouldn't worry about it.
While most people are excessively cautious about their sugar intake, some are reckless. Being able to eat anything while on insulin, is a growing diabetes myth among many people. Eating unhealthy has led to obesity among many children with type 1 diabetes. This complicates the existing condition and also results in other problems. Eating excessively might also cause you take excessive amounts of insulin. This causes insulin resistance and you're forced to keep increasing your dosage.
Myth 4: If my child gets type 1 diabetes, it's my fault.
Diabetes is linked to a complex of nearly 52 genes. While there is an indication of heredity in several cases, it by no means is your fault. Getting type 1 relies on several factors. Gene expression can skip several generations, and can rear its head quite suddenly in other generations. Most people aren't even aware of any family history of diabetes until they're diagnosed.
Myth 5: You probably got it because of a childhood vaccine.
Any links between type 1 diabetes and vaccines are not based on fact. Scientists and doctors have found no link between the two.
Myth 6: You can't play any sports or indulge in heavy exercise.
Type 1 diabetes isn't a disability. It is certainly a condition that requires attention and care, however, it is by no means a restriction. Regular exercise is recommended for all type 1 diabetics to remain fit. Several world renowned athletes are also known type 1 diabetics.
Myth 7: You've been taking insulin for quite some time now. Maybe you're cured.
There's no permanent cure for diabetes and insulin administration is lifelong. Insulin is what keeps type 1 diabetics alive and its administration should be continued throughout. With newer strides in medical science, we all hope for a cure someday. For now however, be sure to stay on your insulin.
Myth 8: Since insulin is what keeps you going, there's no such thing as too much insulin.
Taking excessive insulin can result in something known as insulin shock. This is a severe form of low blood sugar or hypoglycemia. Excessive insulin administration can even be life-threatening in certain cases. Make sure you take only so much insulin as you need. Make sure you maintain an optimal blood sugar level.
Myth 9: An insulin pump means you can stop monitoring your blood sugar.
Though devices like insulin pumps make your life simpler, you shouldn't take your condition for granted. Insulin pumps might track your blood sugar and insulin levels, but you should still keep track of them. Being callous can have serious consequences when it comes to blood sugar levels.
Common Type 2 Diabetes Myths & Facts
Type 2 diabetes is also called adult-onset diabetes or non-insulin dependent diabetes. With an increase in unhealthy lifestyles, there's an increase in younger individuals contracting type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is commonly detected in middle-aged and elderly populations. Unlike type 1, this form of diabetes is not caused by the destruction of beta cells in the pancreas. Instead, it is caused by the resistance of cells in the muscles and liver to insulin. It could also be caused by a reduction of insulin production, or a combination of both causes. Increased blood sugar levels is a characteristic feature of this condition, much like its former counterpart. However, instead of insulin administration, this form of diabetes is treated differently. Drugs like metformin, dietary restrictions and weight loss form a core part of its management.
Type 2 diabetes is one of the most common diseases among adults. It is also the 7th leading cause of death among middle-aged populations. To help you address this condition, we've put together some common type 2 diabetes myths and facts.
Myth 1: You're diabetic because you're fat.
Obesity is linked to diabetes type 2 and an increase in type 2 cases. Yet this isn't the only reason why someone could develop this form of the condition. Obesity increases the risks of developing type 2 diabetes, but is not the only cause for the disease.
Myth 2: You can tell your blood sugar level by how you're feeling.
Several symptoms of high or low blood sugar coincide with other common conditions. An urge to urinate more frequently could be a urinary tract infection or high blood sugar. Light headedness isn't just low blood sugar, it could be low electrolytes or the flu as well. Relying on something as arbitrary as feelings do not help your condition. Be sure to keep monitoring your blood glucose with devices like glucometers.
Myth 3: You can no longer eat sweets.
This happens to be one of the most prevalent type 2 diabetes myths. So long as you meet your calorie requirement, sweets can be safely included in your meal. Regular monitoring, exercise and lifestyle change allow for more dietary freedom.
Myth 4: Don't push yourself during exercise as it causes low blood sugar.
Your treatment is required to be balanced with a healthy amount of exercise and a nutritious diet. The fear of low blood sugar is no excuse to skip your daily workout. Type 2 diabetics are advised to exercise regularly, as it shows marked improvement in blood sugar control. Your doctor and your trainer can work out a perfect exercise routine based on your condition.
Myth 5: Diabetes isn't something you should worry about very much.
Though you shouldn't worry excessively about your diabetes, callousness is always harmful. Diabetes is a condition that requires dedicated exercise, treatment and diet to control. Most of the responsibility of controlling diabetes lies with you, the patient. Concentrated effort can help you better control your blood sugar levels and prevent future complications.
Myth 6: If your blood sugar was normal yesterday, it should be fine today too.
Type 2 diabetes works in complex ways. Blood sugar is affected by a variety of factors like stress, hormones, sleep and exercise. There's no guarantee about blood sugar in a diabetic remaining stable everyday. The goal really is to maintain sugar levels within a manageable range.
Myth 7: Diabetics can face trouble during sex.
While uncontrolled diabetes can cause low libido erectile dysfunction, it is by no means a norm. Merely being diagnosed with diabetes will not affect your sexual health. Maintaining control on your diabetes ensures a decent quality of life in all respects.
Myth 8: You can't get a tattoo if you're diabetic.
This is a growing myth among several people. Diabetes does slow down healing in peripheral areas, however it is no impediment if kept in check. Merely having diabetes isn't a reason to restrict yourself from getting inked. Proper monitoring can help you live an extremely normal life.
Myth 9: If you have diabetes, you're sure to get heart issues.
Cardiac health and diabetes are closely related. Conditions like hypertension and coronary artery disease can be worsened by diabetes. However, this is no rule. Diabetes when kept under control prevents such long term complications. Be sure to exercise, eat healthy, take your medication and monitor your blood sugar frequently.
Common symptoms of diabetes include, frequent thirst, hunger and urges to keep visiting the toilet. If you're in doubt, you should consult a doctor or take a test like this one. Diabetes is a common condition and has a lot of misinformation attached to it. Be sure to visit your doctor and undergo regular check-ups to ensure you live an unimpeded life. Diabetes is a condition, not a curse.