According to the International Diabetes Federation, 522 million people will have diabetes by 2030, and almost half of people with diabetes remain undiagnosed. Despite its prevalence, there’s still a lot of confusion surrounding the disease. Here are a few common misconceptions about diabetes.
Only adults get diabetes
Diabetes can appear and be diagnosed at any age. Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in children and adolescents. Type 2 diabetes used to be known as adult-onset diabetes because it was almost always diagnosed in adults. The number of children and adolescents diagnosed with type 2 diabetes has increased over the years, however.
There’s nothing that you can do to prevent diabetes
Genetics factor into your risk for type 2 diabetes, but lifestyle choices also play an important role in your risk and preventing diabetes. Maintaining a healthy weight through daily exercise and a healthy diet can help reduce your risk for diabetes. Smoking can make it difficult for your body to use insulin, so not smoking can help decrease your risk for diabetes, as well.
Eating too much sugar causes diabetes
Sugar alone doesn’t cause diabetes. There’s no doubt that sugar is unhealthy, and it can contribute to the development of type 2 diabetes. Sugar is a carbohydrate and all carbohydrate increases your blood glucose levels. Unhealthy diets high in calories and sugars can increase your risk for diabetes, but the other lifestyle choices you make – as well as genetic factors – combine to determine your risk for diabetes.
It’s your fault if you have diabetes
Diabetes is a serious chronic disease, and people with diabetes are not to blame. There’s no known way to prevent type 1 diabetes, and while lifestyle factors do contribute to your risk for type 2 diabetes, even type 2 diabetes is not entirely preventable.
You’re not at risk if you’re a healthy weight
Being obese or overweight is associated with a number of health problems, and it increases your risk for type 2 diabetes. This does not mean that you’re immune to the disease if you maintain a healthy weight, however. Even people at a healthy weight can have diabetes.
Diabetes is inconvenient but not serious
According to the American Diabetes Association, diabetes results in more deaths than breast cancer and AIDS put together. There are several risks and complications associated with diabetes, including heart disease, stroke, blindness, kidney failure, and lower limb amputation.
What is diabetes?
If you have diabetes, your blood glucose – or blood sugar – levels are too high. The pancreas creates a hormone called insulin that helps your cells get energy from glucose. If your body doesn’t have enough insulin, or if your body can’t use insulin well, glucose stays in the blood.
There are different types of diabetes. With type 1 diabetes, the pancreas does not produce insulin. With type 2 diabetes, your body either doesn’t produce enough insulin or your body is unable to properly use insulin.
Prediabetes is a condition where your blood glucose levels are higher than they should be, but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. Diabetes that occurs in women during pregnancy, which typically goes away after pregnancy, is known as gestational diabetes. Both prediabetes and gestational diabetes put you at an increased risk for type 2 diabetes.
Talk to your doctor
Diabetes can be a very serious problem. High levels of glucose in your blood can lead to cardiovascular problems, permanently damage your organs, and lead to disability. Talk to your doctor about your risk for diabetes and learn what you can do to prevent the disease.