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Debunking Six Myths about Diabetes Management

About 25 million US residents suffer from diabetes, and another 70 million or so could develop it in the next few years. With prevalence this high, you might expect that people would be better educated about this difficult condition and how to prevent it, but most people know surprisingly little. Here's a look at some of the most common myths about diabetes management, as well as the truth behind the misinformation.

1. Diabetes symptoms are obvious. Tales of blindness, dizzy spells and foot injuries make many people think that diabetes symptoms will be easy to identify. The fact is, however, that most people with diabetes don't develop obvious symptoms until their disease is extremely advanced. After you've had the condition for three to five years, you may see some of the following symptoms: 

- Excessive thirst

- Hunger or marked lack of appetite

- Excessive urination

2. Only old people get diabetes. While it's true that getting older increases your risk of suffering from this disease, you're actually never to young to develop it. Type 1 diabetes appears in children and other young people, while type 2 diabetes can develop at any time. Assuming you won't get the disease because you're young could be a very risky choice.

3. Diabetics must use insulin.

In type 1 diabetes, the body fails to produce enough insulin to handle blood sugar levels, requiring patients to use supplemental insulin. Type 2 diabetes, which is fast becoming the most common variety, has several diabetes management options. Most doctors recommend focusing on diet and exercise first, then relying on insulin and drugs only if lifestyle changes present a problem.

4. Eating sugar causes diabetes. While it's true that a diet high in refined carbohydrates can be a serious problem for diabetes management, people who eat a lot of sugar don't necessarily get the disease. Most cases seem to be caused by a combination of factors, including genetic indicators. If your parents or another close relatives have the disease, your chances of getting it are higher, but people without diabetic relatives can still develop the problem. A healthy diet high in fruits and vegetables can decrease your risk, but enjoying sugar doesn't doom you to taking insulin.

5. Fat people get diabetes. Studies have shown that a weight loss of about 7 to 10 percent can be an incredibly helpful part of any diabetes management program. Other research suggests that overweight and obese patients have about a 20 percent higher chance of developing the disease than those at "normal" weight. However, studies have also shown that diabetes and related conditions can actually encourage weight gain. Right now, doctors aren't sure whether fatness causes diabetes, diabetes causes fatness, or other factors are involved.

6. Certain foods are "good" or "bad" for diabetics. It's true that a healthy diet can be part of good diabetes management practices, but many people take this too far. If you've heard that eating bitter melon or cinnamon can cure diabetes symptoms, or you believe that white potatoes are detrimental, you're probably misinformed. Diabetic patients can benefit

from some natural remedies, but there are no cures, while sweets and other "white foods" are fine in moderation.

Summary: Diabetes is a serious condition that affects huge numbers of people all over the world. Many patients believe common myths about diabetes symptoms and treatment, such as the idea that sugar induces the disease. If you've heard any of these falsehoods about diabetes, talk to your doctor or another medical professional to find out the truth.

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Debunking Six Myths about Diabetes Management  
Debunking Six Myths about Diabetes Management  

Diabetes is a serious condition that affects huge numbers of people all over the world. Many patients believe common myths about diabetes sy...