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Diabetes Myths and Facts

You have probably heard a lot of things about diabetes, true and untrue. The list below contains 10 commonly believed myths about diabetes, along with some facts that will answer your questions:

MYTH 1: Diabetes is contagious.
Diabetes is an endocrine disease and is basically caused by a problem with the amounts of insulin produced by the beta cells in the pancreas. Diabetes tends to be an inherited trait that runs in families?it is not contagious.

MYTH 2: If children get diabetes, they'll eventually outgrow it.

When children get diabetes, it is usually Type 1 or insulin dependent diabetes. This form of diabetes is caused by the destruction of the beta cells in the pancreas that produce insulin. At this time, beta cells cannot be regenerated, nor is it practical to have them transplanted. Until a cure for diabetes is found, childhood diabetes will continue into adulthood.

MYTH 3: Kids with diabetes can't exercise.
Just the opposite is true. In fact, food intake (meal plans), insulin, and physical activity or exercise is the basis for treatment of Type 1 diabetes. Exercise lowers the amount of blood sugar, which results in a person feeling better, it helps to avoid being overweight, and lowers the chances of developing the long-term complications associated with diabetes. However, it is important to test blood sugar levels before and after exercise in order to avoid hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).

MYTH 4: People with diabetes (kids, adolescents, and adults) should avoid parties.
There is no reason to do this since everyone needs to relax and socialize. In fact, parties are a great way to lower or avoid stress which can affect blood sugar levels. People with diabetes just need to be careful about the amounts of food or alcohol that they use. It's important to discus the use of alcohol with your doctor, diabetes educator or dietitian. Your dietitian can also show you how to substitute various foods in your meal plan, and what types of foods to avoid.

MYTH 5: Insulin cures diabetes.
When used properly, insulin is a medicine that helps to keep the levels of blood sugar in the near-normal range. In Type 1 (insulin dependent) diabetes, insulin must be used because the pancreas is not producing] the insulin the body needs. In Type 2 diabetes, diet (meal plan), exercise, and oral diabetes medications are used, with insulin sometimes used for additional control. Insulin itself does not cure diabetes.

MYTH 6: Pills for diabetes are oral insulin.
Pills for diabetes (oral hypoglycemic agents or anti-diabetic oral hypoglycemic agents) work to affect the ability of the body to use insulin better?they are not oral insulin. There are several types of pills that work differently, so it is important to work with your health care team to be sure that you get maximum effect of this kind of treatment.

MYTH 7: People with diabetes can't eat carbohydrates.
Not true?however, when a person is first diagnosed with diabetes it is important to meet with a dietitian who is aware of the medical treatment planned by your doctor. The dietitian can then help you balance medication (if you take any) with physical activity, life-style, and the amount and types of food that you eat. This will help you keep blood sugar levels at near-normal levels, feel healthy, and prevent long-term complications.

MYTH 8: Diabetes in women prevents them from having children.
In the past, few technologies existed that would help people keep blood sugars in the normal range. We now know that if a woman with diabetes becomes pregnant, she can deliver a healthy baby by maintaining normal blood sugar levels both before conception and throughout the pregnancy.

MYTH 9: If my insulin dose is increased, my diabetes must be getting worse.
The most important goal for people with diabetes is keeping near-normal blood sugar levels in order to feel well and avoid long-term diabetes complications. To do this, each person needs different amounts and types of food, physical activity, and medicines like insulin.

MYTH 10: Insulin must be injected directly into the vein.
When patients first learn that one area used for insulin injection is the arm, they may envision inserting the needle directly into a vein in the antecubital area as in blood withdrawal. The patients must be reassured that insulin is injected into the fat tissue on the back of the arm (or on the abdomen, thigh or hip) and that the needle is much shorter than that used for vein puncture.

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