Debunking Diabetes Myths: Learn the Risks

The American Diabetes Association indicates that 1.5 million people are diagnosed with diabetes every year in the United States, making it one of the most prevalent chronic diseases. At the same time, it is also one of the more commonly misunderstood diseases.

In the spirit of World Diabetes Day, UC Health connected with an expert to help debunk common myths about diabetes. Understanding the facts about the diagnosis, treatment and prevention can help reduce its impact.

Colin Carracher, MD, UC Health internal medicine physician and assistant professor of medicine at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, subspecializes in diabetes. Dr. Carracher has been recognized as one of the best physicians in America and top doctors in Cincinnati. He shared his insight on a few topics regarding possible myths about diabetes.

    Myth 1: Diabetes is NOT a leading cause of kidney failure, nontraumatic lower limb amputations and blindness among adults.

    Answer: FALSE. Uncontrolled diabetes can cause several health complications, affecting nearly every organ system in the body. In the United States, diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death, and the number of people with diabetes is on the rise. The key is prevention. If you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes, getting control of your blood sugar now and maintaining that control over time will greatly reduce your risk of developing these health complications.

    Myth 2: There are only two types of diabetes—Type 1 and Type 2.

    Answer: FALSE. There are many types of diabetes, however Type 1 and Type 2 are by far the most common and recognized. Type 1 diabetes is caused the body’s own immune system attacking and destroying insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. The treatment for Type 1 diabetes is insulin. Type 2 diabetes is caused by resistance to insulin. People with Type 2 diabetes still produce insulin, but their bodies don’t respond to it normally. In addition to insulin, there are several noninsulin drug classes that can treat Type 2 diabetes. Regardless of the cause or type of diabetes, they all result in high blood sugar.

    Myth 3: Patients require a special diet for the rest of their lives once diagnosed with diabetes.

    Answer: TRUE AND FALSE. Dietary changes are required once someone has diabetes, but in the form of appropriate meal planning rather than eating “special” foods. Patients with diabetes should receive education about carbohydrates (sugars) in the foods they eat. It is important to understand that not all carbohydrates are equal. With guidance from a diabetic educator or dietician, patients with diabetes will learn how to limit the amount and types of carbohydrates they consume in such a way that it improves their blood sugar control.

    Myth 4: Treatment for diabetes remains relatively the same from patient to patient.

    Answer: FALSE. The medical management of diabetes should be individualized. For Type 1 diabetes, the treatment is always insulin, but the amount and timing of that insulin will vary considerably from patient to patient. For Type 2 diabetes, since there are so many medication options, your doctor should consider your preexisting medical history in order to choose a treatment regimen that is safe for you. Medication choices can be narrowed down further based on the specific glucose control problems a patient is experiencing. Some medications are better at controlling sugar levels all day long, while others are specifically designed to control elevations in blood sugar caused by meals.

    Myth 5: Sugar-free foods are typically diabetes friendly.

    Answer: FALSE. Buyer beware! It is very common for consumer food products to make claims on the front of the package to suggest it is perfectly healthy for someone with diabetes. “Sugar-free” is one of those misleading terms and may mean that the product contains zero added sugar. However, if you read the nutrition label on the back, you’ll often find that the item still contains carbohydrates—which is sugar. Unfortunately, terms like this aren’t always standardized and can have a different meaning depending on the company or product that uses the term. This is where your diabetic educator or dietician can help you demystify your foods so that you can choose your foods wisely.

FREE DIABETES SUPPORT GROUP

Overall, diabetes is a complex disease. There are many different theories as to what causes it and how to treat the complicated diagnosis. Taking action can reduce risk and help manage diabetes; however, support and finding community groups is just as important. West Chester Hospital offers a free support group to help you connect with others who live with diabetes to provide a forum for learning, support and discussion.

All support groups are held in the UC Health Women’s Center conference room, located on the fourth floor of UC Physicians Office–West Chester (South) on the UC Health West Chester Campus, 7675 Wellness Way, West Chester, OH 45069. Parking is free.

Upcoming Adult Support Group Sessions:

  • Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019, from 6–7 p.m.
  • Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020, 5:30–6:30 p.m.
  • Tuesday, March 3, 2020, from 5:30–6:30 p.m.
  • Tuesday, April 7, 2020, from 5:30–6:30 p.m.
  • Tuesday, May 5, 2020, from 5:30–6:30 p.m.
  • Tuesday, June 2, 2020, from 5:30–6:30 p.m.
  • Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2020, from 5:30–6:30 p.m.
  • Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2020, from 5:30–6:30 p.m.
  • Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020, from 5:30–6:30 p.m.
  • Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020, from 5:30–6:30 p.m.
  • Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2020, from 5:30–6:30 p.m.

This support group is offered to people with both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. Registration for support group sessions is not required. For more information, please call UC Health Endocrinology at 513-475-7400.

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