The CDC estimates that more than 30 million people in the United States live with diabetes. This is 9.4% of our country’s population. While there are treatments to help patients manage their diabetes diagnosis, there is not yet a cure.
An essential part of managing diabetes is understanding the disease. Unfortunately, there are many myths and misconceptions associated with a diabetes diagnosis.
Misconception #1: A person can only have diabetes if it runs in their family.
Diabetes does have a genetic component, but it’s also possible to be diagnosed with diabetes if you have no close family members with the disease. Your lifestyle and environmental factors play as much a role as genetics do.
Misconception #2: Diabetes will always present with serious symptoms.
Diabetes can present with symptoms, such as increased thirst, fatigue, irritability, slowly-healing sores, blurred vision, and frequent infections. However, not all diabetics will have symptoms severe enough to warrant a doctor’s visit to address them. It’s common for a person with type I diabetes to show obvious symptoms, but the symptoms are sometimes more mild in a person with type II diabetes. This is why it’s important to schedule regular visits with your doctor.
Misconception #3: Once you’re diagnosed with diabetes, there’s nothing you can do about it.
Diabetes is a serious disease, but it’s also common and controllable. Treatments and lifestyle changes have been shown to help people with diabetes live a full and healthy life by preventing complications caused by the disease. Remember that ignoring the symptoms and doctor recommendations can be dangerous.
Misconception #4: Only overweight and obese people can have diabetes.
This statement isn’t entirely true. For patients with Type I Diabetes, which is usually diagnosed during childhood or early adulthood, weight isn’t believed to be a factor at all. Instead, the cause is unknown, but it’s believed to be a combination of genetic susceptibility and environmental factors. Being overweight is strongly linked to the development of Type II Diabetes, but not everyone with this type is overweight. Similarly, not every overweight person will have diabetes.
Misconception #5: People with diabetes can’t eat any sugar.
Sugar is a simple carbohydrate. While it’s true that sources of carbs must be controlled, it’s not necessary (or possible) to completely eliminate sugar from a person’s diet. In addition to sugar, a person with diabetes must moderate their intake of foods like pasta, bread, and milk. A person may need to modify their diet to maintain optimal health, but careful planning can make it possible to enjoy our favorite sweet treats in moderation.
If you have questions about diabetes or want to enhance your understanding of the disease, consult a local doctor who can help with your specific situation.