There are 30 million people in the United States living with diabetes, but one in four do not even know they are living with this condition. In addition to those millions, another 84 million adults, teenagers and children have prediabetes, but 90% are unaware. These numbers show the need to bring awareness to diabetes and clear up any myths the surround this condition.
Discover the truth about diabetes below and share with your friends and family.
First, a brief explanation of diabetes -
Diabetes is a chronic condition that affects how your body reacts to the sugar in your broken down food. After you eat your blood sugar levels rise and your pancreas then releases insulin which makes it possible for sugar in the cells to be used for energy. If you have diabetes, your body either cannot produce enough insulin or isn’t using it properly. When this happens, your blood sugar levels remain too high, eventually leading to serious health issues. Diabetes is divided into three types: type 1, type 2 and gestational diabetes.
Myth 1: Only children get Type 1 diabetes.
Children and teenagers are the ones usually diagnosed with type 1, but this autoimmune reaction can be diagnosed later in life. This type affects 5% of those with diabetes. Individuals with type 1 will have to take insulin every day. This type cannot be prevented.
Myth 2: My family has diabetes, so I’m going to have diabetes.
No one in my family has diabetes, so I don’t have to worry about getting it.
Family history is one risk factor to consider, but not the only one. Those with family members who have type 1 are at greater risk. If you have family members with type 2 diabetes then you are only at greater risk if you echo the same lifestyle habits. Type 2 is preventable with healthy lifestyle habits such as a managing what you eat, weight control and exercise.
Myth 3: I’ll know if I have diabetes.
Spotting symptoms for type 1 can be easier than the other types because they can develop over a few weeks or months and can be severe. However, type 2 diabetes can be almost undetectable in some individuals. Symptoms can develop over years and can go unnoticed.
Prediabetes can be reversed and type 2 can be prevented with weight loss and lifestyle changes. This is why it’s important to know your risks and ask your physician about taking a blood sugar test.
Myth 4: Only obese people get diabetes.
While weight is one risk factor, there are several others to consider. Other risk factors include activity level, age, family history and race. Even those classified as “overweight,” rather than “obese” are at risk for diabetes. Losing just 5-7% body weight and being active for 30 minutes, five times a week can dramatically lower your chances of developing type 2 diabetes.
Those over the age of 45 are at a larger risk for diabetes. In addition to age, family history and race are risk factors. If a close family member had type 1 you are at risk for developing type 1. If your mother had gestational diabetes, you are at risk of developing diabetes. Those that are African American, Hispanic/Latino, Native American are at a higher risk.
Myth 5: Insulin is a cure for diabetes.
There is no cure for diabetes. Insulin helps control glucose levels. High blood glucose levels over an extended period of time can lead to serious health issues.
Myth 6: Having diabetes is going to ruin my life.
Diabetes symptoms can be controlled by your everyday lifestyle choices. Your diet can include a large variety of foods and you can likely still eat your favorites (you may just need to cut back on portion or frequency). Staying active with diabetes is important too, but you’ll get even more benefits than just lowering blood sugar levels. Getting 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week will lower blood pressure, burn calories, improve mood and improve sleep.
It is true that having diabetes requires conscious effort in planning meals, activities and educating yourself, but you have a wealth of resources that can help you live your healthiest life. Talk to your physician about any question you have and ask him/her for any recommendations on other resources like nutritionists, classes and support groups. You can also read through trusted websites for organizations such as the American Diabetes Association, CDC and National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.
Ask your primary care physician about any questions you have regarding diabetes screenings, symptoms, management and prevention. To find a provider, visit setonharkerheights.net/find-a-physician.