Diabetes: Facts vs. myths

Author: Kristina Stuntebeck, Contributing writer
Published: Nov 12 2013 10:47:16 AM EST   Updated On: Nov 11 2014 08:49:42 AM EST
Diabetes causes post-its

There are many misconceptions and stereotypes hovering around the subject of diabetes. This November, celebrate Diabetes Awareness Month by taking some time to educate yourself about the disease and test your knowledge of some basic diabetes facts.

 

True or False: Diabetes is not that serious of a disease.

False. While it may not appear that serious at surface-level, diabetes can be deadly. In 2010, around 3.4 million people were estimated to have died from consequences of high fasting blood sugar, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Over time, diabetes can damage the heart, blood vessels, eyes, kidneys, and nerves. Proper blood glucose control is needed to avoid serious long-term health problems.

 

True or False: Diabetes can be detected early.

True. Blood testing and looking for warning signs (excessive urination, thirst, constant hunger, weight loss, vision changes and fatigue) can lead to an early and relatively inexpensive diagnosis and help individuals take control of their diabetes before it becomes severe, according to the WHO.

 

True or False: People who are overweight or obese are all at risk of developing diabetes.

False. This is a common misconception. The Hamilton Health Center states that while excess body weight and physical inactivity are significant risk factors for developing the disease, it’s important to remember that genetics plays a role. Most overweight or obese individuals never develop the disease, and some otherwise healthy individuals can still be at risk.

 

True or False: Not all diabetics need to take insulin.

True. Insulin injections are a common way to maintain relatively normal glucose levels in the body, but they are not necessary for everyone, the WHO says. A healthy diet, regular exercise to maintain a healthy body weight, and avoidance of tobacco use can keep symptoms at bay, particularly for those with Type 2 diabetes.

 

True or False: Needing insulin injections means a person is doing a poor job of controlling their diabetes.

False. Type 2 diabetes is a progressive disease. So, while diet and exercise may initially prevent high blood sugar, there may come a time when insulin injections are a more efficient and recommended way to keep blood glucose levels normal, according to the Hamilton Health Center.

 

True or False: Diabetes is contagious.

False. No sneeze or hypodermic needle can transfer diabetes from one person or another. There is still a lot to be learned about the origins of the disease, but diabetes develops because of genetic and lifestyle factors and is definitely not contagious, the Hamilton Health Center states.

 

True or False: Everyone can play a role in helping their family, friends, and neighbors control their diabetes.

True. It is important for diabetics to keep a positive attitude when it comes to dealing with their disease, and the people around them can play a significant role in the process, according to the Mayo Clinic. Simple gestures like setting out more healthy food options at a party, offering to be an exercise partner, and providing positive support and encouragement can help keep diabetics on the right track to living a healthy lifestyle.