Diabetes, often referred to by doctors as diabetes mellitus, describes a group of metabolic diseases in which the person has high blood glucose (blood sugar), either because insulin production is inadequate, or because the body’s cells do not respond properly to insulin, or both.
Patients with high blood sugar will typically experience polyuria (frequent urination), they will become increasingly thirsty (polydipsia) and hungry (polyphagia).
It is quite a common disease that is going rampant around Sri Lanka. As a result, there are many myths about diabetes that make it difficult for people to believe some of the hard facts – such as diabetes is a serious and potentially deadly disease. These myths can create a picture of diabetes that is not accurate and full of stereotypes and stigma. This week, FYI decided to give you some Myths and Facts about Diabetes For Your Information…
MYTH: Diabetes is not that serious of a disease.
FACT: Diabetes causes more deaths a year than breast cancer and AIDS combined. Having diabetes nearly doubles your chance of having a heart attack. The good news is that good diabetes control can reduce your risks for diabetes complications.
MYTH: If you are overweight or obese, you will eventually develop type 2 diabetes.
FACT: Being overweight is a risk factor for developing this disease, but other risk factors such as family history, ethnicity and age also play a role. Unfortunately, too many people disregard the other risk factors for diabetes and think that weight is the only risk factor for type 2 diabetes. Most overweight people never develop type 2 diabetes, and many people with type 2 diabetes are at a normal weight or only moderately overweight.
MYTH: If you have diabetes, you can’t do too much exercise or you might get a low blood sugar attack.
FACT: If you are on insulin or a medication that increases insulin production in the body, you have to balance exercise, insulin, and diet. However, many type 2 diabetics are not on insulin, and the most commonly used oral medications for diabetes, such as metformin and sitagliptin, don’t cause low blood sugar at all, no matter how much exercise you do. In fact, exercise is crucial to controlling diabetes, along with weight loss.
MYTH: Diabetes means your body doesn’t produce enough insulin.
FACT: This is true in type 1 diabetes, where the pancreas stops producing insulin completely. People who develop type 2 diabetes, which is the most common type of diabetes, usually have sufficient insulin, at least when they are first diagnosed. Their problem is that the insulin doesn’t work properly. It fails to cause the cells in their bodies to absorb glucose from the food they eat. Eventually their pancreas may stop producing enough insulin, so they will need injections.
MYTH: Diabetes means having to give yourself shots, and I can’t stand needles.
FACT: Only people who are on injectable medications need to deal with needles. Today there are insulin pens that don’t require you to inject yourself and blood sugar meters that make drawing blood painless. Plus, there are many new medications that control diabetes without needles or risk of low blood sugar reactions.
MYTH: People with diabetes should eat special diabetic foods.
FACT: A healthy meal plan for people with diabetes is generally the same as a healthy diet for anyone – low in saturated and trans fat, moderate in salt and sugar, with meals based on lean protein, non-starchy vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats and fruit. Diabetic and “dietetic” foods generally offer no special benefit. Most of them still raise blood glucose levels, are usually more expensive and can also have a laxative effect if they contain sugar alcohols.