Myths Vs. Facts

Myth: Isn’t diabetes just “a touch of sugar.”

Fact: Diabetes is a serious chronic medical condition that if left untreated can be life threatening. Diabetes develops when your body is unable to use insulin properly, doesn’t make enough insulin, or both.1 The two most common types of diabetes are type 1 and type 2. Type 1 diabetes (formerly known as juvenile diabetes) is characterized by the body’s inability to produce insulin; the cause of this condition is currently unknown. Type 2 diabetes (formerly known as adult onset diabetes) is characterized by a resistance to insulin; 90% of people diagnosed with diabetes are diagnosed with type 2.2 Because obesity is a common risk factor of type 2 diabetes, the prevalence of type 2 diabetes among young people is increasing as the number of overweight youth rises.

Myth: Diabetes isn’t a serious disease – cancer and HIV/AIDs affect many more people than diabetes.

Fact: While cancer and HIV/AIDs may seem more prevalent due to the resources and attention they receive, diabetes is actually more common than either of these diseases in the U.S., with nearly 26 million Americans diagnosed and undiagnosed. On its current course, the number of people with diabetes is projected to nearly double to 44.1 million by 2034 due in large part to the aging baby boomer population and increased rates of overweight Americans and obesity.

Myth: Diabetes rarely goes undiagnosed.

Fact: There are 7 million people in the United States living with diabetes who are undiagnosed. The American Diabetes Association recommends that all adults who are overweight and have at least one additional risk factor be tested for diabetes. These risk factors include physical inactivity, immediate relative (immediate = 1st degree relative) with diabetes, member of a high-risk population (e.g. African American, Latino, Native American, Asian American, Pacific Islander), diagnosed hypertension (at least 140/90 mmHg or on therapy for hypertension), HDL cholesterol levels (HDL is < 35 mg/dL), history of cardiovascular disease and women with polycystic ovarian syndrome. In the
absence of known risk factors testing is recommended beginning at age 45 and should continue every three years.

Myth: Diabetes is a death sentence.

Fact: Diabetes cannot yet be cured, but it can be managed. With the proper diet, exercise, regular blood sugar testing, and treatment therapy, people living with diabetes can lead full and active lives. However, if left untreated, diabetes can lead to serious and life threatening complications including, stroke, kidney disease, high blood pressure, blindness, nerve problems and amputations.

Myth: If I have type 2 diabetes and my doctor prescribes insulin, it means I failed in managing my diabetes.

Fact: Medical guidelines and recommendations aimed at curbing the progression of type 2 diabetes have included earlier introduction of insulin for patients who have not succeeded in improving glycemic control with exercise and oral medication alone.

As type 2 diabetes progresses, the body’s ability to make enough insulin declines. Over time, non-insulin medicines may not be enough to bring down blood sugar levels. Insulin injections become necessary. This does not mean you have failed to control your diabetes. It simply means that your body has changed and needs a different type of treatment.

Myth: No one in my family has diabetes, so I am not at risk.

Fact: Healthcare providers are still unsure exactly what causes diabetes, although both family history/genetics and lifestyle factors may play a role. Genetics and lifestyle factors including, age, lack of physical activity, obesity, high blood pressure and ethnicity are thought to have an especially important role in triggering type 2 diabetes.

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