There are a lot of misconceptions surrounding every common disease, and type 2 diabetes is no different. Even patients with diabetes and their family members may be misinformed. Here are eight common myths associated with type 2 diabetes.
The Myth: All patients with type 2 diabetes are overweight
The Truth: Being overweight increases your risk of developing type 2, and 85 percent of people with type 2 in the United States are overweight or obese. But not everyone who is overweight develops type 2; it all depends on genetic predisposition. As they say, “Genetics loads the gun and environment pulls the trigger.” It is possible to develop type 2 diabetes and not be overweight: about 20 percent of people with type 2 diabetes are not overweight. In fact, people of Asian descent develop type 2 at body weights that are considered normal for the rest of the U.S. population. And Asian Americans develop type 2 at much higher rates than the rest of the U.S. population, due to genetic predisposition.
The Myth: Type 2 diabetes can always be prevented
The Truth: Having a healthy diet and exercising can significantly diminish the chances of being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes; however, again, genetics play a large role in the disease. If type 2 diabetes runs in your family, you are at a much higher risk than someone with no history of the disease. Scientists have isolated specific gene sequences that increase the possibility of developing diabetes.
The Myth: All type 2 diabetes patients must use insulin
The Truth: Many people with type 2 diabetes can initially control their blood glucose levels with lifestyle modifications or a combination of lifestyle changes and oral medication. As the disease progresses, they may need to start insulin self-injections. But remember—this is just the nature of the disease and not a reflection of the person with diabetes’ management skills.
The Myth: Type 2 diabetes is not as dangerous as type 1 diabetes
The Truth: Both diseases can cause life-threatening problems if not managed properly. If blood glucose levels remain consistently too high, almost every organ can be affected resulting in blindness, kidney failure and cardiovascular disease, among others.
The Myth: People with type 2 diabetes can’t eat sugary foods
The Truth: All foods can be eaten within moderation. People diagnosed with type 2 diabetes should consult with a dietitian to figure out a meal plan that enables them to regulate their blood sugar levels while still being able to enjoy the foods they like.
The Myth: People with type 2 diabetes can tell when their blood sugar levels are high or low
The Truth: Signs that blood glucose levels are high or low can be mistaken for various illnesses and vice-versa. People with type 2 diabetes are just as prone to suffer unexpected hypoglycemia as people with type 1. Likewise, they are just as likely to be unknowingly hyperglycemic. The only way for people with type 2 or type 1 to know their blood glucose levels is by checking it with a blood glucose monitor.
The Myth: Patients with type 2 diabetes are more likely to get a cold or the flu
The Truth: People with type 2 diabetes are not more susceptible to common illnesses. But doctors advise type 2 patients to get an annual flu shot. A case of the flu can affect your blood glucose levels and create added stress in your body, which can increase the risk of developing complications such as pneumonia.
The Myth: Being put on insulin is a sign of failing to manage diabetes
The Truth: Diabetes is a progressive disease. It can often initially be regulated with lifestyle changes or a combination of lifestyle modifications and oral medication. But eventually the pancreas of many people with diabetes stops producing an adequate amount of insulin, making it necessary to begin insulin injections.
Pass this along to make sure everyone in your life knows the truth behind these myths about type 2 diabetes.