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Five Surprising Myths about Diabetes

March 17, 2020 | in New Diagnosis, Stats & Facts

Author Denise Parent, BSN Regis University, Denver CO
Parkland Medical Center
Editorial Review Phoebe Stoye, A.B. in Neurobiology, Harvard College
Clinical Review Nicholas Yozamp, MD, Washington University in St. Louis
Brigham and Women's Hospital

Being diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes can be overwhelming. Information can pour in from many sources—from doctors, nurses, dietitians, and also from friends and family. But what if some of those facts turned out to be false? Let's review a few common misperceptions about diabetes.

1. Diabetes is not that serious.

Actually it's pretty serious business! Diabetes is much more than a sugar problem. When your body is unable to use up the sugars you eat, those sugars are left traveling in your bloodstream throughout your body. Over time, these extra sugars can damage your organs—especially the heart, kidneys, nerves, and blood vessels. If you develop heart failure, your heart can no longer pump blood efficiently through your body. This can cause swelling, difficulty breathing, and other complications. Kidney failure may require dialysis treatments to filter and clean your blood. Neuropathy is a painful condition that is mostly felt in the legs and feet, and caused by nerve damage. As your blood vessels are affected, you are at a higher risk for stroke and can even develop eye problems affecting your vision.

2. Does Eating Sugar Cause Type 2 Diabetes?

Type 2 Diabetes is not caused by eating too much sugar. If you have been diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes, your body is not using the insulin released by your pancreas the way it should. This condition is known as insulin resistance. It frequently develops when people are overweight and inactive. Having a family history of Type 2 Diabetes may make you more prone to developing the disease as well.

3. No symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes: "I feel fine, so I must be fine."

The truth is that your body actually gets used to having a higher than normal blood sugar and so you may feel just fine—for now. But that doesn't mean you'll stay without symptoms. The damage we reviewed above is happening gradually, making it more difficult to recognize that there is a problem. Visiting your doctor for regular check-ups helps increase your likelihood of finding health issues & complications early. Follow your doctor's directions about checking your blood sugar with monitors and taking medications. If you have any concerns, be sure to discuss them with your doctor.

4. There's nothing I can do about my diabetes diagnosis.

Though many are told they can't change their diabetes when they receive a diagnosis, this statement couldn't be further from the truth. Changes in diet, exercise, and medication use can significantly improve your health. By taking action to keep your blood sugar under control, you can minimize the harmful effects of Type 2 Diabetes. You might not have any control over your genetic history, but you can certainly get more active and start making lifestyle changes today.

Learn more about the latest research about how lifestyle changes can impact your Type 2 Diabetes.

5. My doctor ordered insulin because I'm not doing a good job controlling my blood sugar.

If your doctor has ordered insulin, it is because they believe it is the best treatment option for your situation. Insulin and oral diabetic medications work in different ways. If your pancreas no longer produces any insulin, oral medications that stimulate your pancreas will not help. All medications also have potential side effects that must be taken into consideration when deciding upon a treatment regimen. Trust that your doctor knows what's best. Feel free to ask your doctor questions about why they may have prescribed one medication instead of another. It is your right to understand what is happening.

With so many sources of information out there, it is sometimes hard to know what is true and what isn't. If you need to learn about diabetes, do your best to use trustworthy, medically-reviewed sources—especially when looking online, or talking to people who think they know what is right. Develop a rapport with your doctors, nurses, and the other members of your health care team. And don't be afraid to ask questions! It is your body, and you have every right to understand and play an active role in your health care plan.


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