Diabetes-myths and realities

I will not go into teaching what diabetes is,lot of research is being done by people who are diagnosed by diabetes,the word these days has fetch the name of being a silent killer,one of the worst disease et al.One of the largest killer disease coming under the head of Non Contagious diseases,Hypertension , Cerebellar stroke Asthma being the other few.
Numerous myths,misconceptions are being attached ,circulated via different means and ways,moreover when despite medication and other modes,abnormal blood sugar levels and other associated complications are seen patient really tries to believe many improper notions.
I have tried to collect few most common misconceptions out of my clinical experience.
1.Diabetes is not a serious disease.
Lot of recently diagnosed patients say that they  don’t think that diabetes is a serious disease as they don’t feel any pain,etc or any symptom which is not the case.

  • It causes more deaths in a year then AIDS,TUBERCLOSIS AND BREAST CANCER taken together.
  • Two out of three diabetics die of Myocardial infarction and stroke.
  • Every 6-7 minutes a limb is being amputated .
  • Millions are spent by Fedral .and other govt.worldwide on medication and on complications.

2.Eating lot of sugar related items causes diabetes.
No,not at all,Dessert lovers,chocoholics,sweet lovers,etc. aren’t destined to develop diabetes.

  • It is actually a amalgam of too many factors,genetic(hereditary),life style,stress,obesity to name a few.
  • A diabetic family profile from any side be it paternal or maternal should be a alarm bell for you.
  • Follow the basic principle ‘prevention is better then cure’-sweat a lot,exercise a lot,eat cautiously,check obesity,things will fall in line.

     3. Just cannot eat anything sugary.

  • Numerous studies have proved that chocoholics or sweet tooths are destined to develop diabetes. Diabetes is caused by a combination of genetic,life style factors and over weight. Eating lot of  sugary and products with high calorific values  surely tends to increase one’s waist line  and weight hence it is recommended to eat healthy and exercise regularly as an increase in 1 kilogram can increase the risks by 5% to 9%.
  • Sweet/confectioneries have ready carbohydrates which increase glucose levels almost instantly and considerably,but then a piece of cake,part of dessert or few cookies won’t harm if taken as a part of healthy diet combined with medication,exercise,etc.
  • Follow the rule”Anything in excess is harmful”.

4. Diabetics must follow a special diet.

A diet which is low in fat (mainly trans and saturated fats),simple sugar and salts.A diet which is based on whole -grain foods,vegetables,fruits and simple proteins hence these so called diabetic foods/supplements provide no special benefits.Readers may see my earlier post on diet.

   5.A diabetic child will not carry disease in adulthood.

  • Childhood diabetes or Type1 diabetes or  juvenile diabetes or Insulin dependent diabetes  is caused by malfunction of insulin producing cells i.e. Beta cells of pancreas,which are destroyed by body itself .
  • Hence a child will carry the disease till adulthood.
  • Till date only treatment/management is possible no definitive cure is there,though trials are going on artificial pancreas,once a month insulin shots,nothing is affirmative yet..

    6. pregnant diabetic females have numerous complications..

  • Years back this was not a myth, diabetic mothers with poorly controlled blood sugar levels were   unable to carry full term pregnancy due to self spontaneous abortion(miscarriage) or malformation in early pregnancy ,hypertension and premature babies in later pregnancy,also uncontrolled diabetes leads to high birth weight leading to unwanted severe complications for both mother and newborn,
  • Now with modern understanding and treatment of diabetes leading to tight control of diabetes and its complications ,any diabetic can give even normal delivery like any other  female.
  • Gestational diabetes is a term used for females who develop diabetes during pregnancy which generally gets cure on its own after pregnancy but might carry on even after pregnancy.

    7.Diabetics are more prone to any illness..

  • Again a myth,controlled diabetics lead normal life any other human being falling like any other,but yes some US guide lines say about the need of Flu shot,this is still controversial,as any illness makes diabetes a nightmare to control.
  • Uncontrolled diabetes may lead to severe life threatening complications even in minor surgeries..

   8.Diabetics should not play outdoor sports activities.

  • Moderate physical activities,exercise,brisk walk,etc are integral part of treatment and prevention of diabetes but diabetics with complications should first seek medical advice before initiating any new exercise in their regime.
  • Diabetics with numbness/weakness in lower limbs should restrict jogging/brisk walking without special diabetics footwear,due to fear of unwanted foot injuries or foot ulcers,etc.
  • Over enthusiastic or uncontrolled exercise regime can damage heart muscle permanently,in diabetics.

9.Only diabetics needs insulin.

  • Everyone needs insulin,a hormone produced by glands called as pancreas that converts food into energy. A non diabetic person naturally produces enough insulin to meet his/her requirements.However diabetic either don’t produce any insulin or produce in a insufficient quantity or their body is unable to utilize the insulin produced. Would again like to re-enforce that insulin or any other medication or regime for diabetes are just tools to manage diabetes and not cure.

    10.Diabetics on pills/insulin can eat what ever they like by increasing dose.

  • No,diabetics need to be utterly cautious about their food intake,all these pills try to regulate by bringing sugar levels near to normal by putting extra pressure on already fatigued out pancreas,so they can ill afford any extra glucose load cause by unregulated,unhealthy diet.
  • Though insulin doses are adjusted according to sugar levels,overeating causes weight gain, cholesterol increase leading to other complications.

     11.Diabetics should not drink alcohol.

  • Moderate amount of alcoholic beverages with food does not cause much adverse effect on sugar levels but alcohol taken empty stomach may cause severe dip in sugar levels.
  • Reports in insulin-dependent diabetics and even in healthy subjects have shown that acute alcohol consumption impairs the body response to hypoglycaemia.
  • Chronic or excessive drinking ,in contrast ,has been associated with hyperglycaemia .Chronic alcohol abuse can reduce the body’s responsiveness to insulin and cause glucose intolerance in both healthy individuals and alcoholics with liver cirrhosis.
  • Any short spell of hypoglycaemia can cause severe brain damage as brain CANNOT store glucose  and it relies exclusively on body glucose levels to cater its energy needs.

12.Diabetes get cured after few years.

  • It might get settled down for a while but since diabetes is a disease due to multiple factors so if  one doesn’t follow proper routine diet and medication there are high chances of it becoming uncontrolled.

13.Proper medication means no high reading of blood sugar.

  •   Unfortunately a diabetic despite following strict medication as advised by doctor may experience the odd stubbornly high reading.Diabetes isn’t a easy disease to manage and as we age bodies are constantly changing,as is our reaction to stress,illness, exercise and diet. But than too there is no point of loosing hope  overall target  is to control blood glucose levels.

14.Let diabetics enjoy life without medication eventually he/she has to die.

  • This question is asked by very often,my reply is,diabetes should be taken as any other disease ,any disease if left untreated will lead to unwanted complications.

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