Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Setting the record straight on diabetes

USA Today ran a great article recently on diabetes: 5 myths about diabetes.  I love these kinds of articles, because they dispel the myths that are often repeated even by the media, but unfortunately they are few and far between.

If you read the article online, it starts out with a 6-question quiz about diabetes.  If you have the disease and have a good handle on it, most of the questions should be easy.  For instance, we all know that eating right as a diabetic isn't expensive, and most of us know that you can get diabetes even if no one in your family has ever had it.

The article dispels some of the more critical myths, in my opinion.  For instance, it completely debunks the idea that diabetics can't eat anything with sugar in it.  In explanation:

"We know now that table sugar doesn't raise blood sugar any more than other starches, like a baked potato, rice or bread," says Elizabeth Kern, director of the diabetes program at National Jewish Health in Denver.

I think there is still evidence that certain carbs raise blood sugar faster than others, but if you are aware of that, take the right amount of insulin, and monitor your blood sugar a handful or so of times a day, it won't be a problem for you.

The article also talks about how having diabetes doesn't automatically mean you'll have other complications such as blindness and kidney failure.  Those complications are associated with untreated diabetes, so the article stresses the importance of proper treatment.

The final myth the article debunks is the idea that having diabetes will limit your career choices.  It shouldn't — we have the ADA for that, though apparently military colleges can still deny anyone with diabetes.  (WTF?)  You may have to fight for it — my last employer tried to cover less of my health insurance premium than my non-diabetic co-workers, so I had to contact a lawyer — but having diabetes shouldn't have an impact.

In regards to this last one, I think that sometimes the only impediment to someone's career is actually in their head.  I have heard diabetics complain about how crashing wipes them out, rendering them unable to come to work on time, or stay at work if they are already there.  Crashing happens, but it shouldn't frequently happen with enough seriousness to impact your work performance if you take good care of yourself.

Can you think of other negative myths about diabetes that you would like to set straight?

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