15 Diabetes Myths Debunked, Courtesy Of Your Diabetic Supply Company
When nearly one out of every 10 people in America has diabetes, there are bound to be myths that spring up around it. After all, diabetes is a complex disease, so it’s not surprising that there would be misinformation that gets around and eventually turns into common myths and urban legends. And it’s not just those who don’t have diabetes who are spreading this misinformation, or even those who are close to someone with diabetes; sometimes it’s the people who have diabetes themselves who are have fallen prey to these myths. NYC diabetes supplies, your nationwide mail-order diabetic supply company, wants to spread as much truth about how people should care for diabetes while we provide the diabetic medical supplies they need.
Let’s take a look at some of the most common diabetes myths that plague the world. If you believe any of them, we hope we can set the record straight. After all, not knowing the facts on something often lead us to judge people unfairly, so knowing the truth can help you be a much more understanding person. And if it sounds like we’re wrong about something, we hope you’ll do some more research (ask your doctor!) to verify that we’re right!
MYTH: There are two types of diabetes
Fact: There are actually three types of diabetes.
In general, people are most concerned with getting Type 2 diabetes when they reach adulthood. They’re also familiar with Type 1 diabetes that tends to affect children. But can you name the third type of diabetes?
Type 1: This form of diabetes, also called juvenile-onset diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes, affects approximately 5-percent of diabetes sufferers. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition. The body is essentially attacking its own pancreas with antibodies, and the damaged pancreas stops making insulin. When that happens, insulin has to be injected in order to help the body make use of the glucose that is building up in the blood. Genetics seem to be the most common reason that people get diabetes, but its sudden occurrence in people who are genetically predisposed makes many scientists think that there is an environmental factor that triggers it initially. Typically, those with type 1 diabetes have to take their blood glucose level before every meal with a glucose test meter and diabetic test strips.
Type 2: Type 2 diabetes is by far the most common form of the disease and is sometimes call non-insulin-dependent diabetes, though people may need additional insulin as the disease progresses. While there is a genetic predisposition to getting it, lifestyle choices seem to be the reason that it comes to the forefront. People who are obese and lead sedentary lifestyles are more likely to get it. When someone is overweight and doesn’t exercise, there might not be enough insulin to deal with the amount of glucose in the blood. Insulin resistance can also become a problem, which occurs when the body no longer responds to the insulin the pancreas is producing.
Gestational: Gestational diabetes only shows up in less than 10-percent of women when they are pregnant, and is most often diagnosed in the second or third trimester. Glucose builds up in the mother’s blood, and that blood passes to the baby via the placenta. This can affect the baby’s development, leading to abnormal weight gain before birth and breathing problems after birth. While gestational diabetes in the mother usually resolves itself after the birth of the child, both mother and child are at a significantly higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life.
MYTH: Diabetes is caused by eating sugar
Fact: Sugar isn’t (usually) a direct cause.
It’s easy to see where this myth came from: if you see someone constantly snacking on sugar-filled foods every day and then they develop diabetes, that seems to be cause and effect. But the fact is that it’s not the sugar itself that’s causing diabetes, in most cases it’s the excess calories that lead to weight gain. Since being obese is a huge factor in getting type 2 diabetes, avoiding excess calories (including sugar) is one way to avoid becoming overweight.
You’ll notice that we put the word usually in parentheses up above, and that’s because studies show there might be an exception to the rule: sugary drinks. There’s no faster way to get sugar into your body than to drink sugary drinks such as soda, fruit punch, energy drinks, sports drinks, and sweet tea. Not only are you absorbing a huge amount of sugar in one sitting, but you’re also spiking your blood glucose. Basically, you can’t drink the equivalent of 10 teaspoons of sugar and not think that your body won’t respond negatively!
MYTH: A diabetes diagnosis requires dramatic weight loss
Fact: Even small weight reductions can help significantly.
Many people who are told they are prediabetic or have diabetes find the idea of dealing with it daunting. They might imagine that the rest of their lives is only kale and exercise, an unappealing option for most people. Add to that the fact that diabetic medical supplies are a must and it can be hard for some people to deal with the situation.
Yes, losing weight is important, as is exercise. But it doesn’t mean that you have to drop from 300 pounds to 200 pounds overnight. Losing just 7-percent of your body weight can significantly help your health and make dealing with diabetes easier. So don’t worry right away about losing 100 pounds; focus on losing that 21 pounds and you’ll be on your way to a healthier life.
MYTH: I’m not overweight, so I can’t get type 2 diabetes
Fact: Non-overweight people can get type 2 diabetes.
It seems that being overweight is the primary factor that leads to people developing type 2 diabetes. But the fact is that about 15% of people who develop type 2 diabetes are of regular weight or only slightly overweight. That’s because there are other risk factors, such as being inactive, ethnicity, family history, and age. Even if your weight is fine, you should still watch out for signs of type 2 diabetes such as fatigue, frequent urination, excessive thirst or hunger, blurred vision, frequent infections, and pain or numbness in the extremities (hands and feet).
MYTH: Everyone has an equal chance of developing it
Fact: Some people are more susceptible than others.
Some people who have all of the risk factors associated with type 2 diabetes,. including inactivity and obesity, will never develop the disease. They’re simply not genetically predisposed to get it. It doesn’t seem fair, but that’s just the way it is. Take two people who are of the same height, weight, and exercise level and one might develop type 2 while the other doesn’t.
There are also certain ethnicities that are more likely to need diabetic medical supplies from us, namely African-Americans, certain Native American tribes, and Latin Americans. Research is still being done to determine whether these risks are increased due to genetic, environmental, or socioeconomic factors. Women who developed gestational diabetes are also more prone to get type 2 diabetes later in life, as are the children born to mothers who had gestational diabetes while the child was in the womb.
MYTH: It has to run in the family
Fact: Genetics play a part, but anyone can get diabetes.
The fact is, there are many risk factors for diabetes. While it’s true that a family history is one of them, a person can still develop diabetes even if it doesn’t run in their family.
MYTH: Diabetes can be cured
Fact: Diabetes cannot currently be cured, simply treated.
With so many people in the country suffering from type 1 diabetes (3 million) and type 2 diabetes (26 million), and 400 million worldwide, you can be sure that there’s a lot of scientific research being done on it. But it’s important to remember: Since the first use of injectable insulin in 1922 and the creation of biosynthetic insulin in the 1950s, insulin has been a treatment for diabetes, not a cure. Oral medications for diabetics have also been very helpful, but they are simply treating the symptoms. Diabetic medical supplies such as diabetes glucometers and test strips are important diagnostic equipment, but they have no way of treating the disease itself.
That’s not to say that treating the symptoms is a bad thing while we wait for a cure (which could be decades off). It’s always important to improve health and reduce the effects of diabetes as much as possible. Exercise is vitally important because it increases insulin sensitivity and allows your cells to use the glucose for energy more efficiently. Losing weight is also very important so that you don’t develop insulin resistance. Eating healthier meals and reducing calories can also reduce the negative effects of diabetes.
MYTH: Having type 2 diabetes means no insulin injections
Fact: Diabetes is progressive and may lead to the need for insulin injections.
One reason this myth has come to be is that type 2 diabetes is sometimes called “non-insulin-dependent diabetes.” This is often true at the beginning of the disease because the pancreas is still producing enough insulin to deal with at least some of the glucose. (In type 1 diabetes, the pancreas is no longer producing insulin and insulin injections are necessary immediately.) Oral medications can help the insulin the pancreas is producing work more effectively.
But just because a person has type 2 diabetes doesn’t mean that insulin injections will never be necessary. The pancreas might start to produce less insulin, or a person might develop insulin resistance and not be able to use it efficiently.
MYTH: Diabetes isn’t serious
Fact: Diabetes is a serious disease, as you’re about to find out from the list below.
Because diabetes can be managed, people often think that they don’t have to worry about having it. They erroneously think that after eating healthier and losing weight that their lives can go back to normal. While it’s true that a person with diabetes can live a great life, “normal” isn’t something that can be returned to and the effects of diabetes can be life-changing.
For people with type 1 diabetes, it often comes about so quickly and dramatically that the seriousness is obvious. Without insulin, their lives can be at risk if they fall into a diabetic coma A host of other nerve-related conditions can lead to drastically-shorter lives. Even when it’s perfectly managed, the average life expectancy of someone with type 1 diabetes is around 12 years less than the average person in the United States.
Type 2 diabetes is often called the “less-serious” form of diabetes. But just because a snake is less poisonous doesn’t mean that it can’t kill you. Type 2 diabetes should be taken very seriously, and though it affects your health more slowly, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t make dramatic changes to a diet and exercise routine in order to improve your health. Unfortunately, it still ends up shaving more than five years from many lifespans.
But despite the bad news regarding reduced life expectancy, making lifestyle changes can help you make the most of every one of those years and remain healthier for the rest of your life. Here are some of the problems that can arise due to having diabetes of both types that you’ll want to avoid as much as possible.
Eye Problems: Blurred vision can be one of the first signs of diabetes. That’s because diabetes affects the blood vessels in nerve endings. Unchecked diabetes can lead to complete vision loss if it causes cataracts or retinopathy.
Kidney Disease: Unchecked diabetes can lead to a specific type of kidney disease called diabetic nephropathy. The kidneys rely on arteries and blood vessels in order to filter blood, and diabetes can affect the way arteries work. Eventually, the kidneys can no longer filter blood; a person will then require dialysis or a kidney transplant. Watching for blood in the urine with urinalysis strips from our diabetic supply company can warn you of early kidney problem.
Nerve Damage: Diabetes often damages the blood vessels in nerve endings. Nerves run throughout the body, but it’s the nerves at the extremities that are the most affected. This is called diabetic neuropathy, which can cause tingling, burning, pain, and/or loss of feeling in the hands and feet. Because people with diabetes might not be able to notice an infection in their foot, it could go untreated and the foot could become so infected that it may have to be amputated.
Heart Problems: Diabetes begins by affecting the smaller blood vessels, but it can also damage the larger blood vessels in the heart. Nerves are also integral to making sure the heart is functioning properly. On top of that, diabetics are more likely to have high blood pressure and high cholesterol, which can also adversely affect the heart. Having diabetes doubles your chances of having a heart attack. In fact, heart disease is one of the most common ways that people with diabetes eventually die.
Mouth and Skin Problems: Diabetes can create conditions that can damage the skin and mouth, also leaving your open to more infections. Gum disease is more common in people with diabetes.
Erectile Dysfunction: Damaged nerve ending can affect the penis from both the inside and outside. We bring this up for one simple reason: this is the one fact that can make some men follow their doctor’s advice about managing diabetes.
Gastrointestinal Problems: Most of us don’t think about our bowels having nerves, but they do. Damage to the GI tract can cause constipation, diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting.
MYTH: Being on insulin means the diabetes is all taken care of
Fact: Insulin helps, but other changes are necessary
Whether you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, taking insulin is simply a part of how you should deal with it. Yes, the insulin helps you make better use of glucose, but you should never rely solely on the insulin to make you feel better and consider the problem solved. Eating a healthier diet is going to help all of your organs, and exercising is going to further help you make sure the insulin is properly utilized.
MYTH: I can determine my blood sugar by how I feel
Fact: You should use your blood glucose machine to determine your glucose levels.
There’s no doubt that your blood sugar level can affect how you feel, but you shouldn’t rely on how you feel to determine your blood sugar level. In fact, the longer you have diabetes, the less sensitive you become to your symptoms and the more inaccurate you’ll be.
The problem with relying on how you feel is that the symptoms can come from other sources. For instance, if you “feel” that your blood sugar is low because you're lightheaded, it could actually be that you’re simply coming down with a cold. You might “feel” that your blood glucose is high because you’re urinating excessively, but it could be that you simply forgot about that second cup of coffee you had this morning. Always keep track of your blood sugar in the most scientifically-accurate way with a glucose test meter, test strips, and lancets.
MYTH: Drinking water dilutes blood sugar
Fact: Drinking water doesn’t help reduce blood sugar.
At first this sounds silly, but then if you think about it a bit more it almost makes sense. After all, if you have a 6-ounces of soda and add it with six ounces of water, you’ve reduced the amount of sugar by half, right? Well, no, because you still have the original six ounces of sugar water in the glass. Just because it’s diluted doesn’t mean that there’s less of it. The only advantage would be if you only drank half the glass and poured the other half down the drain.
On top of that, even if it worked on a tabletop, it wouldn’t work in the body. Sugar and blood sugar are two different kinds of sugar, and drinking more water won’t help. While it’s always a good idea to hydrate, it’s not going to reduce your blood sugar at all.
MYTH: I’m only prediabetic, so I don’t have to worry
Fact: Millions of people move from prediabetes to full-blown diabetes.
If you go to your doctor and they say that you’re prediabetic, that means you have risk factors that could lead you to develop type 2 diabetes. If a blood test shows that you have high blood sugar, you’re overweight, overly sedentary, or have a family history of diabetes, you may be considered prediabetic.
“Fine,” you might think. “I’ll just keep doing exactly what I’ve been doing and I’ll just stay prediabetic.” Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. Even if you stay at the same weight and engage in the exact amount of activity you always have, age is something you can’t do anything about. As you get older, your chances of getting diabetes rises. You’ll find it harder to lose weight, so that same amount of calories you ate in the past could cause you to gain weight today. You might also find it harder to exercise as you get older. That’s why it’s so important to make lifestyle changes while you’re prediabetic, moving you farther away from full-blown diabetes instead of slouching toward it.
MYTH: The symptoms will be obvious
Fact: Many people live with diabetes for years and never know it.
While genetics most likely plays a factor in type 2 diabetes, the risk factors that bring it to the surface usually develop slowly. People put in a few pounds each year, and their activity slows due to a job change or a reduced interest in playing sports. They’re also getting older, something they can’t do anything about.
Because the change is so gradual, diabetes can be harming a person’s body long before they recognize that anything is wrong. It can make a person very fatigued, though many people don’t recognize this symptom because it’s a sign of so many other health problems. Plus we lead busy lives; we’re all fatigued, right?
Excessive hunger is another common symptom of diabetes, but few of us will admit that we’re any hungrier than usual. With so many yummy foods to eat, of course we’re hungry! Diabetes can also lead to unintended weight loss, which is easy to simply enjoy: “I’m eating more and losing weight, win-win, right?”
Dry skin and dry mouth can also be early signs of diabetes, but they’re easy to dismiss. It’s only when people start to experience blurred vision and excessive urination that they realize that something is wrong, though few expect these have anything to do with diabetes.
Here’s where the truth to the myth comes in: Type 1 diabetes will present itself in a much more obvious manner. Because the pancreas is producing no insulin, the symptoms mentioned above will show up very quickly, and insulin injections and the need for other diabetic medical supplies will be needed right away.
MYTH: I can never eat sweets again!
Fact: Sweets can still be part of your life in moderation.
One important thing that we should mention again is that it’s not just the sugar in sweets that should be avoided. The calories they give you and the carbohydrates they contain can also lead to weight gain and thus encourage type 2 diabetes.
The fact is, nearly every American would do well to reduce their sugar (and caloric) intake. Unfortunately, sweets often take the place of the healthy foods we should be eating. Instead of having a glass of water, too many people drink soda. Instead of whole-grain bread, many people will eat a hamburger bun that’s surprisingly full of sugar. Make sure you are eating a proper potion and healthy food, and only have empty calories occasionally. Cutting them out entirely could cause you to binge on them in the future, so keeping track of your blood sugar with a glucose test meter will let you know when they’re a good idea.
Having diabetes doesn’t mean that you’ll never be able to have a slice of your favorite pie. But just have one small slice of your favorite pie. The problem with the way that most of us eat is that we eat two pieces of our eighth-favorite type of pie, just because it’s there. If you have sweets as a treat, you’re much more likely to keep your diabetes under control.
Keep Your Diabetes Under Control!
There’s no doubt about it: Being diagnosed with diabetes is a big deal. And while it will be life-changing, it doesn’t have to life-ending. Simply keeping it in check with regular trips to the doctor and making sure it’s well-monitored with a diabetes glucose monitor, test strips, and lancets can go a long way toward staying on top of the situation
If you take your diagnosis seriously, you’ll end up eating healthier and exercising more, which is going to make you feel so much better. Sure, you might have diabetes, but you’ll almost certainly be in better shape that you’ve ever been. Work with our diabetic supply company and make the most of your life!