Ten common myths about diabetes busted

Kentucky ranks 17th in diabetes, and many Kentuckians are newly diagnosed every year with the disease, usually Type 2 diabetes. The diagnosis can be overwhelming, especially if you don’t have your facts straight. A report by Healthgrades on the CNN website dispels 10 common myths about Type 2 diabetes.

The first myth is that eating too much sugar causes Type 2 diabetes. Doctors don’t really know what causes it, Healthgrades writes. The body becomes resistant to insulin, the hormone that helps the body use blood sugar for energy, or stops producing enough insulin. This is what causes blood sugar to rise. 

The second myth is that only overweight or obese people get Type 2 diabetes. Being overweight or obese doesn’t cause diabetes, but is a risk factor, so it’s important to remember that at least one out of every three Kentuckians, those considered obese, are at risk to get the disease.

The third myth is that Type 2 diabetes always causes symptoms. In fact, symptoms may develop slowly and are often not easily recognized at first. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates about 8 million people with diabetes don’t even know they have it.

Common symptoms of Type 2 diabetes are frequent urination, feeling very thirsty, feeling very hungry (even though you are eating), extreme fatigue, blurry vision, cuts and bruises that are slow to heal, weight loss, and tingling, pain or numbness in the hands or feet, says the American Diabetes Association.

The fourth myth is that pre-diabetes is nothing to worry about. Healthgrades reports that if you have pre-diabetes you are at “very high risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.” But research shows that you can cut your risk with exercise and weight loss. Kentucky has an estimated 233,000 adults with pre-diabetes, according to the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services.

The fifth myth is that Type 2 diabetes is not as serious as Type 1 diabetes. “Left uncontrolled, both types of diabetes can cause serious complications and even be deadly,” Healthgrades writes. Complications from Type 2, which can be avoided with careful management of the disease, include: kidney disease, vision loss, neuropathy, amputations, heart attack and stroke.

Another myth is that people with Type 2 diabetes don’t need insulin. This is true for most of them, but Type 2 is a progressive disease, which causes “most people to eventually need insulin,” Healthgrades reports. “Starting insulin for Type 2 diabetes does not mean you have failed to manage your disease. It means your disease is changing.”

The seventh myth dispelled by Healthgrades is that Type 2 diabetes can be cured. “There is no cure for Type 2,” it says bluntly. Remission is possible, but in those cases doctors consider the risk of relapse very high.

Another myth is that people with Type 2 diabetes can’t eat sugar, sweets or starches. This isn’t true. What is true is that you need to manage carbohydrates, which are in sugar, sweets and starches, because that’s what makes glucose. With proper portion control, no food is off limits, Healthgrades reports.

Some think that people with Type 2 diabetes have to eat a special diet. In reality, they need to eat a “healthy diet,” Healthgrades says. It is best to consult with a dietitian, or take a diabetic nutrition class, when learning how to eat as a diabetic.

The last myth Healthgrades dispels is that people with Type 2 diabetes can’t lead an active life. In fact, exercise is important to controlling the disease and should be made part of the daily routine. However, it is important to consult with your doctor before you begin exercising to determine what is safe for you.

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