Diabetes has been called an epidemic and public health challenge by the medical and scientific community alike, especially with its drastic rise over the past several decades. When it comes to understanding Type 1 and 2 Diabetes, and taking the appropriate preventative measures to tackle it, many misconceptions keep people in the dark. These myths might include:
1.Type 2 Diabetes Isn’t Very Common
FALSE: A 2015 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association looking at the prevalence of diabetes revealed that an estimated 50% of adults in the U.S. has either diabetes or prediabetes.
Over 70,000 people die annually as a result of complications from diabetes, and in fact, over 25% of adults over the age of 65 have diagnosed or undiagnosed diabetes – that is 12 million seniors roughly.
While Type 1 Diabetes is typically diagnosed in childhood as an autoimmune condition and more a result of genetics, virus, or other unpreventable cause, of the 30+ million American children and adults with diabetes, only 1.25 million have Type 1 – the rest have developed Type 2 according to the American Diabetes Association.
2.Type 2 Diabetes Means My Pancreas Doesn’t Work
FALSE: Simply put, diabetes is the over-concentration of sugar in the bloodstream. When you eat, the carbohydrates in your food are broken down into their components, one of which is sugar. When sugar is absorbed into your bloodstream, the body requires the pancreas to produce a hormone called “insulin” which helps get that sugar into your blood cells to give them energy.
When your body doesn’t produce insulin or doesn’t produce enough insulin, the sugar can’t be metabolized and it builds up in your bloodstream (hyperglycemia) and starts to damage critical functions, organs, and nerves. People with Type 1 Diabetes have this issue.
Turns out that even if your pancreas does produce enough insulin, sometimes your cells will become resistant to it and not allow insulin to do it’s job. This is the more common factor with Type 2 Diabetes. The pancreas will work harder and harder to get enough insulin to remove sugar from your blood, but over time, simply may not be able to.
3.I’ll “Feel” It If I Develop Type 2 Diabetes
FALSE: Not only are millions of people prediabetic without knowing it, but according to the MayoClinic, you can have Type 2 Diabetes for years and have no idea. Symptoms of hyperglycemia, or the onset of diabetes, may include frequent thirst and urination, increased hunger, fatigue, sores that don’t seem to heal, blurred vision, headaches, and difficulty concentrating.
The best way to prevent diabetes is to avoid the lifestyle behaviors that put you at risks like poor diet, inactivity, smoking, and excessive drinking. Annual checkups with your medical provider can also help you stay on top of blood tests and exams that shed light on your blood sugar levels.
For people who are diagnosed as pre-diabetic or with Type 2 diabetes, routine monitoring of blood sugar levels at home is a must. Seniors affected by diabetes can find aid in assistive devices for elderly adults that simplify everyday tasks and ease the side effects of their condition.
4.Type 2 Diabetes Isn’t That Dangerous
FALSE: When your body’s cells are starved of the energy because your insulin is ineffective, the critical functions and processes they would normally carry out suffer. Having diabetes greatly increases your risk of developing heart disease or having a stroke; in fact, 2 out of 3 people with diabetes will die from cardiovascular disease.
It’s not just the heart that is negatively impacted by diabetes, however. The eyes, nerves, and kidneys are all impacted as blood sugar levels rise in the blood and worsen over time. Other dangerous side effects of diabetes include:
- Nerve Damage
- High blood pressure (hypertension)
- Vision loss
- Kidney disease
- Dental disease
- Nervous system damage
- Skin infections
- Foot circulation problems
5.Type 2 Diabetes Requires Pharmacological Treatment
FALSE: Indeed while some Type 2 Diabetes cases are treated with prescription medicine or synthetic insulin by a treating physician, diet and exercise can reduce your need for pharmacological aids and mitigate your Type 2 Diabetes. How exactly?
For one, a diet that eliminates excessive carb culprits, including sugar, can help lower blood sugar levels. Additional modifications like limiting cholesterol and sodium intake can also help fight diabetes and heart disease risk factors like atherosclerosis and high blood pressure.
How exactly? For one, a diet that eliminates excessive carb culprits, including sugar, can help lower blood sugar levels. Additional modifications like limiting cholesterol and sodium intake can also help fight diabetes and heart disease risk factors like atherosclerosis and high blood pressure.
Routine exercise (30 minutes daily of moderate intensity low-impact fitness) plays a few important roles in combating diabetes including weight management to help burn calories and prevent obesity, which contributes to the development of Type 2 diabetes. Physical fitness also stimulates crucial muscle tissue to metabolize glucose (sugar) which helps get it out of the bloodstream.
Don’t leave your future up to misconceptions and medical myths. With the right tips, tools, and knowledge, preventing and tackling Type 2 Diabetes head on can be easier and more effective.