Health & Medicine

Top Five Diabetes Myths

Diabetes can occur in anyone, at any time.

Those with Type 1 diabetes may be born with it. In this case, the body completely stops producing insulin, a hormone that enables the body to use glucose (a form of sugar) found in foods for energy.

Type 2 diabetes is a metabolic disorder that results when the body doesn't produce enough insulin or is unable to use insulin properly. This form of diabetes often occurs in people who are over 40, although today it is increasingly occurring in younger people, particularly adolescents.

Diabetics may experience symptoms such as extreme thirst, weight loss, unexplained fatigue, and frequent urination — or show no symptoms at all. Some Type 2 diabetics can live for months — even years — without knowing they have the disease.

With so much uncertainty surrounding diabetes it should come as no surprise that there are many misconceptions.

Myth #1: You can "catch" diabetes.

Although we don't know exactly why some people develop diabetes, we know diabetes is not contagious. It can't be caught like a cold or flu. However, lifestyle factors such as obesity and lack of activity do increase the risk of diabetes.

Myth #2: Eating too much sugar causes diabetes.

Not really. Diabetes is caused by a combination of genetic and lifestyle factors. Being overweight increases your risk for developing Type 2 diabetes. So, if you have a history of diabetes in your family, eating healthy coupled with regular exercise is recommended.

Myth #3: A "touch of sugar" is not really dangerous.

There is no such thing as "a touch of sugar" or "borderline diabetes." Normal fasting blood sugar should be less than 100mg/dl. Also, keep in mind studies show that those with fasting blood sugar greater than 95mg/dl are also at increased risk for heart disease and are more likely to have high cholesterol and high blood pressure.

Myth #4: I won't get diabetes because I eat a low-carbohydrate diet.

There may be some benefit to eating fewer carbs, but an extremely low-carb diet is not recommended. Carbohydrates provide fuel for energy, so we need some at each meal.

Myth #5: I won't get diabetes because my fasting blood glucose level is normal at every yearly physical.

Maybe you are OK, or maybe not. If you experience even a few of the risk factors associated with diabetes, such as periods of great irritability, hunger or cold sweats an hour or two after eating, you may have high blood sugar after meals and not know it. For this reason, many experts recommend a fasting blood sugar test or a A1C (three-month average blood sugar test) for high-risk individuals.

Whether you display risk factors for diabetes or just want to gain a better understanding of the disease, certified diabetes educators can provide information on how to prevent the disease as well as how to take care of yourself if you have a pre-diabetes or diabetes diagnosis.