Friday’s post: Today let’s borrow a topic from a #dsma chat held last September. The tweet asked “What is one thing you would tell someone that doesn’t have diabetes about living with diabetes?”. Let’s do a little advocating and post what we wish people knew about diabetes. Have more than one thing you wish people knew? Go ahead and tell us everything.
This editorial is by Nora Saul, M.S., R.D., C.D.E., Manager of Nutritional Services at Joslin
We are heading into the home stretch of Diabetes Blog week and I have enjoyed exploring many new topics with you. BitterSweet left the most intriguing posts for last.
Now, I don’t have diabetes, so I can’t talk about what it’s like to living with the disease. But in the spirit of today’s topic, I thought I would spend some time dispelling some frequently heard myths about about the disease and the people who get it.
Both people with diabetes and those without have a lot of misconceptions about the disease. So these are some of the rumors about diabetes I would like to squash.
Diabetes is a death sentence. At this time there is no cure for diabetes, although certain treatments such as gastric bypass can lead to remission in type 2. However, no matter which type you have, if you take good care of yourself you can live a long and healthy life. In fact, Joslin gives out medals for people who have lived with the disease for 50 and, more and more frequently now, 75 years.
A sweet tooth causes diabetes. Eating sugary foods per say doesn’t cause diabetes. Type 1 is an outgrowth of the confluence of genetics and an unknown environmental trigger, and type 2 arises from a genetic predisposition and known environmental factors such as obesity and physical inactivity.
Starting insulin means your diabetes is “really bad”. Taking insulin if you have type 2 doesn’t mean that your diabetes has gotten worse Once you have diabetes, over the course of years, the beta cells in the pancreas stop making insulin. This is simply the natural history of the disease. Insulin replacement then becomes the only way to control blood glucose.
Starting insulin means you are going to lose your eyesight and your feet. Insulin doesn’t cause complications. Some people develop complications shortly after starting insulin because they waited too long before beginning. The appropriate dose and timing of insulin can help keep blood glucose levels in the safe zone.
Blood glucose checks don’t hurt-although there has been substantial progress in making fingersticks less painful they still are uncomfortable for many people.
Injections are painful. Insulin injections don’t hurt. Today’s needles are small and thin, easily entering the skin.
Chocolate bars are a good way to treat low blood glucose. Easily digested carbohydrate foods without fat should be used to correct hypoglycemia. Chocolate and other fatty foods slow down the rise in blood glucose.
Weight loss will completely control diabetes. Weight reduction, although an important component of treatment for people who are overweight, will not control diabetes if a person’s beta cell function is significantly compromised. In fact, for most people with type 2 diabetes, lifestyle modification alone won’t be sufficient to keep their blood glucose in control beyond a few years.
All people with type 2 are overweight: About 15 percent of people diagnosed with type 2 are in the normal range of body mass index.
Family history is important only in type 1 diabetes. Both type 1 and type 2 are have a genetic component, but genes play a much larger role in the genesis of type 2.
People with diabetes are ill and shouldn’t hold important jobs– there are very few jobs that can’t be done by people with diabetes. There are laws under the Americans with Disabilities Act which prevents discrimination on this basis.
And my favorite- having diabetes turns you into a child. Adults with diabetes don’t need nannies. The best way to help someone care for their diabetes is to ask him or her how you can be of help. Just like with any other disease, all the nagging in the world doesn’t produce results.
If you have other myths you want to shatter, please send them along. Thanks for allowing me to share your week.