Every year, the statistics regarding diabetes is soaring. On the global level, the prevalence of this condition is estimated to have affected 463 million people in 2019 and it is projected that this could rise to 578 million by 2030, and 700 million by 2045.
Those who seek to learn more about these conditions, for purposes of prevention or management, usually turn to the internet. But a lot of articles on these topics feature large amounts of misinformation and are often the result of savvy search engine optimization, rather than accuracy.
The following are some of the most commonly heard diabetes myths that need to be addressed:
1. Diabetes isn’t all that serious
With the prevalence of diabetes, the implications of poor management are often forgotten. Diabetes is not a mild condition and when left unmanaged, it can lead to life-threatening complications. The excess of blood glucose in the body can injure the walls of the blood vessels in the body and this is what causes most organs to be affected. This ranges from vision problems (diabetic retinopathy) to even kidney and heart damages.
However, good control of diabetes can significantly reduce the risk of such complications.
2. Sugar is the main cause of diabetes
While high blood sugar level is the culprit that diabetes, it is not simple enough to say that the condition is caused by the sugar we consume. Even if you don’t consume sugar, there are other dietary aspects and lifestyle factors that decide your chances for developing diabetes. Even complex carbohydrates and fruits can contribute to blood glucose levels when consumed without paying heed to its quantity.
This also means that diabetes patients can enjoy the occasional sweet treat, as long as they pay attention to their portions. In fact, following an all or nothing mentality of depriving yourself of your favourite desserts can lead to unhealthy dietary behaviours like binge eating.
3. Only children develop type 1 diabetes/only those above age 60 develops diabetes
The age factor is not all that important when it comes to developing diabetes. There are significant cases of type 2 diabetes being diagnosed in children, young adults and those that are in their 30s and 40s. As obesity and a sedentary lifestyle continue to grow, the cases of type 2 diabetes are also growing.
Even with type 1 diabetes, a significant number of them are now diagnosed in adults. Earlier, a lot of cases were misdiagnosed at type 2 owing to their age, weight, or ethnicity. But now it has become easier to differentiate this by certain antibody tests.
4. Being lean implies being diabetes free
When it comes to diabetes, a person’s size hardly matters, rather their blood vitals do. Being thin doesn’t equate to being completely healthy and there is a significant percentage of diabetes patients who are at a healthy weight. These patients may have type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes or even be on the fine line between them. The main point is that their body is not capable of producing enough insulin to meet its needs.
5. Being a diabetes patient can be too debilitating for a lot of activities
Having a lifestyle condition like diabetes does come with its limitations. But this doesn’t mean that a lot of things are completely out of the question for diabetes patients. Some thoughts claim that driving is difficult for diabetes patients. But this thought is depended on how well managed the condition is – a person who takes their medicines on time and follows the doctor’s lifestyle advice can be a much better driver than a disease-free person. The only risk in this regard is the chance of hypoglycemia while driving. But it is a largely preventable condition and those living with diabetes know the best steps to prevent such episodes.
There is also a prevalent notion that being diabetic can restrict being athletic or fitness-oriented. A diabetes patient must focus on a healthy lifestyle to ensure better disease management. Even with barriers of diabetes, it is possible to even become high-performance athletes, if they have the guidance of an expert doctor and an effective management plan in place.
Similarly, there are no jobs that a diabetes patient can’t do. Unless a patient has individual sight or mobility problems as a result of unmanaged diabetes, most works can be undertaken by diabetes patients.
While there are several other diabetes-related myths you may come across, it is important to do your research before believing them. Being well informed about common lifestyle conditions, knowing their symptoms and risk factors can help you be better prepared in case it befalls you or a loved one.
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