The 5 Biggest Myths about DiabetesMonday, July 08, 2013
The definition of a myth is a fable or a legend. Stories repeat themselves and after being told and retold over time, the version last heard may be true or false, or partially both. Let’s discuss five diabetes myths and bust them with the facts!
1. Skinny people do not get type 2 diabetes
This is a myth! It is true that being overweight is a risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes. When overweight people with type 2 diabetes lose weight, this helps control blood sugars by helping the body use insulin better. But…..it is also true that skinny people can develop diabetes! According to the National Institute of Health, 15 percent of the people with type 2 diabetes are normal weight or thin. Weight is not the only factor involved in developing diabetes. Other risk factors include:
b. Body fat stored in the abdominal area, liver and muscle
c. Not enough exercise
e. Vitamin D deficiency
f. Pancreatic injury
2. If you have type 2 diabetes and start taking insulin, you now have type 1 diabetes.
This is a myth! It is true that people with type 1 diabetes must take insulin as their bodies do not make insulin. Type 2 diabetes is different. A person with type 2 diabetes makes insulin but cannot use it due to a condition called insulin resistance. Other diabetes medications may not be enough to control blood sugars in people who are type 2, in which case more insulin is needed for proper glucose metabolism.
A person with type 2 diabetes may also needed to take insulin during hospitalizations, certain illnesses, some pregnancies, and when requiring some medications. Discuss with your diabetes team what the best approach is to control your blood sugar.
3. People with diabetes can’t eat dessert.
This is a myth! Desserts almost always contain carbohydrates. A person with diabetes needs to know how many carbohydrates they can eat at meals and snacks. Desserts can be included as part of the carbohydrate allowance. If this has not been discussed with your diabetes educator, ask for assistance in understanding how desserts may be included in your plan.
4. A person with diabetes taking insulin or a medication that can cause hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) can always feel it when their blood sugar is low.
This is a myth! When a person can not feel their blood sugars dropping, this is called hypoglycemia unawareness and can be very dangerous. Good diabetes management when taking insulin and other diabetes medications that can possibly cause hypoglycemia include:
a. Testing blood sugars before driving or operating dangerous machinery
b. Testing blood sugars before and after exercise
c. Testing blood sugars before sleeping
d. Testing blood sugars at times recommended by your diabetes team to help avoid this condition.
Always have your meter available to test your blood sugar and carry glucose tablets or other simple carbohydrates recommended by your medical team to treat a low sugar condition if needed.
5. A child with type 1 diabetes should not go to overnight camp.
This is a myth! In fact there are special camps to help children (and sometimes families) have fun, and learn about diabetes. For more information and to find camps throughout the world, go to the Diabetes Education and Camping Association. Their mission is to expand diabetes camping programs worldwide.
It is wise to talk to people who are experts in diabetes about the things you question and verify if widely held beliefs are untrue myths. While the myths above are busted, some myths, or parts of them, may be true. Research what you hear to see if the facts support it or not. Accurate information is essential to help control your diabetes!