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National Diabetes Month Part 1

Monday, November 9, 2015

November is National Diabetes Month so during this month we will look at some of the myths surrounding this condition.  This week, will be myths about diabetes in general. In future weeks, will be myths about diet, and medications. Diabetes is on the rise.  As of 2013, it is estimated that close to 1.6 million New Yorkers have diabetes.  The State Department of Health estimates that an additional 760,000 have the condition and do not know it.  

Myth #1.  You can catch diabetes from someone else.

Reality:  NO! Diabetes is not contagious like a cold or flu.  For some individuals there may be a genetic link and for many, diabetes relates to lifestyle.

Myth #2.  If diabetes is not in my family, I won’t have to worry as I won’t get it.

Reality: Many diabetics have no family history of the disease.  There are risk factors for diabetes that we cannot control, which include our age, ethnic background, women who have had diabetes during pregnancy and having a family history.  What is happening now is the impact our lifestyle is having, Americans weigh more and are more sedentary. Think about it, when was the last time you got out of your chair to change a TV channel?

Myth #3.  You get diabetes from eating too much sugar.

Reality:  You do not get diabetes just from eating too much sugar.  As the explanation of myth #2 pointed out, there are a number of factors that contribute to a diagnosis of diabetes and eating more food than the body needs is where this myth got started since we think of overeating as something done only with dessert type foods which are loaded with sugar.  The reality, we overeat with lots of different foods, the nutritious ones as well as the not so nutritious ones.  The next time you reach for seconds, ask yourself if you really need it, and the answer needs to be NO!

Myth #4.  Hearing someone say that they have Borderline Diabetes or a Touch of diabetes.

Reality:  There is no such diagnosis as having “Borderline” or a “Touch” of diabetes.  The term is “Pre-diabetes”, which is a fasting blood sugar between 100-125mg. According to the New York Department of Health, pre-diabetes affects 5 million New Yorkers; of this number of pre-diabetics, with some simple lifestyle changes, some New Yorkers could be among the 65% - 70% who will not go on to become diabetic.  

Myth #5: Type 1 diabetes is worse than Type 2 diabetes.

Reality: this myth has historic roots and goes back to the time before insulin was discovered.  At that time, it was known that the person had a problem with the metabolism of their food so the treatment was to take away most of the food an individual could eat, and the person, usually a child, died anyway.  With the discovery of insulin this changed, and many individuals were able to live long, productive lives.  Diabetes is a serious disease no mater what type the person is diagnosed with as both types can result in high blood sugars which lead to many devastating complications.  

Myth #6:  If I get diabetes, or have  pre-diabetes, there is nothing I can do.

Reality:  There is a lot you can do starting with a meeting with your health care provider and following up with education from a Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE).  A Certified Diabetes Educator is an individual with years of training and has passed a certifying exam.  This person will help you understand the disease process, the treatment your physician has prescribed, how to exercise, test your blood sugar and more.   CDE’s work in Diabetes Programs recognized by the America Diabetes Association or the American Association of Diabetes Educators.   

Nancy M. Johnsen RN, CDE is a Certified Diabetes Educator and Community Health Education Coordinator and Coordinator of the Diabetes Education Program at Noyes Health. The program has locations in Geneseo, Dansville, Hornell and some local physician offices.

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