World Diabetes Day: 10 common diabetes myths busted

  • World Diabetes Day: Breaking myths about the disease is the need of the hour and can help one fight the deadly effects of the disease better. 
World Diabetes Day is observed annually on November 14(Pixabay)
World Diabetes Day is observed annually on November 14(Pixabay)
Updated on Nov 11, 2021 03:42 PM IST
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ByParmita Uniyal

World Diabetes Day: Diabetes, one of the fastest growing disease worldwide, has become a cause of concern for many who are increasingly leading a sedentary lifestyle with faulty eating habits and high levels of stress. While diabetes was earlier seen in people above 40, it is now becoming common in all age groups and even adolescents and young adults are at greater risk of getting diabetes than before. 

Not surprisingly, India is a home to 77 million diabetics with second highest cases in the world, and researchers feel the number may reach 134 million by 2045. 

Diabetes occurs when the body doesn't produce enough insulin or can't use it effectively. There are two types of diabetes - type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes. In type 1 diabetes, the body doesn't produce insulin at all, making it one of the most common chronic diseases in children. In type 2 diabetes, the body doesn't respond to insulin or is not able to make enough of it.

ALSO READ: Reversing diabetes: 3 habits that can help control your sugar levels

Managing diabetes is possible but tricky as blood sugar levels have to be monitored regularly. Besides, uncontrolled blood sugar levels could lead to heart diseases, kidney problems, stroke, and even lower limb amputation. Breaking myths around the disease is the need of the hour and can help one fight the deadly effects of the disease better. World Diabetes Day is observed annually on November 14 to raise awareness about the disease.

"Diabetes is not only a disease of developed world now, with India contributing as the second largest diabetes population. With the change in lifestyle it has become as common in rural areas as in urban cities. One of the barriers in the way of seeking health care advice is the misconceptions about the disease," says Dr. Chhavi Agrawal - Associate Consultant, Diabetes / Endocrinology, Fortis Escorts Heart Institute, Okhla, New Delhi.


Myth 1: Diabetes is caused by eating sweet food or sugar

Fact: "The truth is there are multiple contributing factors in occurrence of disease including genetic and lifestyle," says Dr Agarwal.

Myth 2: Diabetes is a disease of elderly and does not affect children or young adults

Fact: "Fact being, while type 1 diabetes is commonly seen in children, the prevalence of type 2 diabetes is also increasing at an alarming rate in children and young adults," adds the expert.

Myth 3: Alternative therapies can cure diabetes

Fact: "The fear about the diabetes because of its long term need for follow up and treatment, leads to a lot of patients turning to alternative modes of therapy which offer cure of the disease. This not only leads to uncontrolled sugars for a longer duration, in cases of type 1 diabetes it could lead to life threatening complications. It is thus important for the patients to know that remission for short duration might be achieved with intensive diet therapies like intermittent fasting or very low calorie diet or some bariatric surgeries in type 2 diabetes, but none of the therapies cure diabetes," says Dr Agarwal.


Myth 4: If I'm suggested insulin it means I have severe and end stage diabetes

Fact: "Insulin is suggested to some for particular reasons like high HBA1C (3months'sugar average), increased urination, losing weight etc. In some these can be reversed especially with controlling weight, bringing BMI to less than 23, etc," says Dr. Dilip Gude, Sr. Consultant Physician Yashoda Hospitals.

Myth 5: Skipping a meal can control sugar levels

Fact: "Another misconception among diabetics is that if they don’t eat a meal, their sugar levels will get controlled and they won't require medicines, while the fact is once the sugar levels are high, skipping meals is not the way to treat it. The total calorie intake of the day is important rather than just avoiding carbohydrates and maintaining a diet hygiene is more fruitful," says Dr Agarwal.

Myth 6: My sugar levels have always been on the higher side for years but it's ok since I don't have any symptoms

Fact: "Diabetes unfortunately does not manifest with overt symptoms unless severe and late in the course. Early diagnosis and sticking to FBS (Fasting Blood Sugar) of 80 to 120 and PLBS of 140 to 180 with appropriate antidiabetic agents saves heart, kidney, retina, nerves and various other organs," says Dr Gude.

Myth 7: I know I'm overweight but that has no bearing on my diabetes

Fact: "Weight control is integral and the pillar of diabetes management. Some drugs actually cause weight gain while others control weight in a healthy manner. Weight loss inducing meds like GLP1RAs and SGLT2i classes protect heart and kidney from the deleterious effects of diabetes," says Dr Gude.

Myth 8: I don't need to take medicines as my blood sugar levels are in control for a long time now

Fact: "Majority of patients stop taking their prescribed medicines once sugar is controlled thinking they no longer require it while the fact is that the sugar is controlled because of the medicine and as soon as they stop the treatment, sugar levels start increasing again," says Dr Agarwal.

Myth 9: Lifestyle changes like morning walk and healthy diet are not effective as my blood sugar level remains high despite following them

Fact: "Moderate intensity work-out (brisk walk/strength and weight training) that makes one sweat for at least 45 minutes for almost 6 days a week and strict diabetic diet is known to minimise the need for higher doses and more classes of diabetic meds for good sugar control," says Dr Gude.

Myth 10: I don't need to check sugar levels frequently as they are generally in control.

Fact: Diabetes is a progressive disease. The medicines and doses that worked for you before may not work now. Even if sugars are well controlled at least once a week checking of FBS/PLBS with a glucometer is important. Meet your diabetologist at least once in 60 days. Your doctor needs to check end-organ damage if it has started like kidney disease, neuropathy, heart disease retinopathy etc.

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Monday, January 24, 2022