Myths and Truths about Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is a condition that affects how your body regulates blood sugar (glucose). This is caused by two interrelated problems. One, your pancreas is not producing enough insulin and two, your cells are not responding normally to the insulin. According to the World Health Organisation, the majority of adults who get diagnosed with diabetes have type 2. In fact, between 90 and 95 percent of diagnosed diabetes cases are type 2. Many people are however unaware that they have the condition, as symptoms tend to develop slowly and over a longer period. It is important to be observant of symptoms and immediately make an appointment with your doctor when any of these signs appear:
- Increased thirst and dry mouth
- Frequent urination
- Feeling weak or tired
- Blurred vision
- Unplanned weight loss
- Slow-healing sore or cuts
- Frequent infections
- Numbness or tingling in your hand or feet
Type 2 diabetes might be a common condition, however there is still a lot of misinformation to be aware of. Here are some key myths dispelled:
Myth – Every adult who is overweight will develop type 2 diabetes
Truth – Being overweight or obese is a high-risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes, however adults with a normal, healthy weight can also develop the condition. It is important to understand that there are several other risk factors, apart from being overweight that can lead to type 2 diabetes. These factors include: having a genetic predisposition, the distribution of fat around your abdomen, not exercising enough, suffering from high blood pressure, your age and ethnicity.
Myth – Type 2 diabetes is not a serious condition
Truth – When left undiagnosed and untreated type 2 diabetes can badly harm your body and even lead to death. The condition may start to affect your major organs and diabetes itself can become a risk factor for developing other chronic illnesses. It can increase your risk to develop heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, eye damage, skin conditions, nerve damage and Dementia. Never leave any symptoms associated with type 2 diabetes untreated.
Myth – Only adults are affected with type 2 diabetes
Truth – Type 2 diabetes used to be known as adult-onset diabetes, because it mainly affected middle-aged to older people. However, childhood obesity continues to be on the rise and many children are living inactive lifestyles. Unhealthy lifestyle choices are a major factor that is leading to children, teenagers and young adults developing type 2 diabetes.
Myth – You can’t eat sugar or carbs if you have type 2 diabetes
Truth – You do not have to completely cut out sugar and carbohydrates from you diet. Instead, it is advised to adapt your diet so that you eat fewer and smaller portions of sugar and carbs. Your health care provider and a dietician will be able to advise you on the healthiest food options and meal plan to manage your blood sugar levels. The goal is to eat a balanced diet, allowing you to enjoy a treat every now and then.
Myth – You will be required to give yourself daily insulin shots
Truth – Suffering from type 2 diabetes does not necessarily mean you have to take daily insulin shots. Your health care provider will recommend the best treatment to manage your blood sugar levels. For some people it requires taking insulin shots whilst other people simply take oral medication. It completely depends on the severity of your circumstances and what treatments fit best with your lifestyle.
Myth – Type 2 diabetes cannot be treated or managed
Truth – Type 2 diabetes can absolutely be treated and managed. Research has shown that in some cases the condition can even be reversed. The key is to take medication as prescribed and to really make an effort to change your lifestyle. This means eating a healthy and balanced diet, exercising daily, and losing extra weight. Keeping an eye on your blood pressure and stress levels is also helpful.
Be vigilant with symptoms and prioritise healthy lifestyle choices
Dispelling these myths makes it very clear that type 2 diabetes should not be taken lightly. Living a healthy lifestyle goes beyond regular exercise and a balanced diet. It also means being aware of possible symptoms and regularly going for medical check-ups to ensure that you are not developing any signs of prediabetes. If you are suffering from the condition or get diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, prioritise the suggested lifestyle changes, because managing the condition and living a healthier life is possible.
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Disclaimer: Any information contained here is merely a guideline. Always visit your healthcare practitioner for any health-related advice or diagnosis.