diabetes myths

In Nigeria, diabetes is a disease that is still shrouded in myths and fables. However, it is undoubtedly one of the most challenging health problems of our time so the need to separate fact from fiction has never been more important. As part of our public duty and as patriotic Nigerians, we are going to debunk some of the most popular diabetes myths in this article.

Myth 1: “I know my body, I know when my sugar level is high or low”

My dear, no one disputes the fact that you know your body. However, the body is complex with systems and processes working in ways you may not fully understand. This is why it is important to work with health experts to help in monitoring your blood sugar levels. Yes, feeling shaky, lightheaded and dizzy may be due to hypoglycaemia but it may also be due to a fever. Frequent visits to the toilet? Bladder infections, prostate problems and cystitis are also causes of frequent urination. Our message here is never to assume; always speak to a doctor to be sure.

Myth 2: “Diabetes isn’t life-threatening. I just have to check my blood sugar.”

Think again. Diabetes is a chronic medical condition and without proper management, it may lead to blindness, stroke, amputation and even death. In fact, diabetes causes more deaths a year than malaria and AIDS combined. Sadly, many people with diabetes don’t make the necessary lifestyle changes to support disease management. It is important to emphasise that the risk of life-threatening complications increases because many people with diabetes refuse to change their diets. If diabetes were taken as seriously as cancer, we would not be having this conversation.

Myth 3: “Carbohydrates are the enemy.”

This isn’t exactly correct. We all need a balanced diet and carbohydrates are a healthy and important part. The trick is to know what carbohydrates to eat (some are more nutritious than others) and how much to eat. A doctor and nutritionist will help you work out a diet that works for you.

Front view diabetic woman checking her glucose level

Myth 4: “You have diabetes because you eat too many sweets.”

Not exactly. Diabetes is chiefly caused by a blend of genetic and lifestyle factors. Besides, the sugar level in the bloodstream is different from what is sold in shops. However, excessive sugar can lead to weight gain, which then increases diabetes risk. A healthy diet with regular physical activity can help reduce that risk.

Myth 5:” Diabetic patients are the only ones who need insulin.”

We all need insulin, a hormone produced in the body that processes food into energy. Everybody produces insulin, just that those with diabetes aren’t making enough or able to use the one they make properly. Insulin is administered to manage diabetes, not cure it.

Myth 6: “If you have diabetes – your life is over!”

Diabetes is indeed a long-term disease without a cure, but it is not a death sentence. With proper management, people with diabetes can lead normal productive lives, and have fun. They just need to stick to their treatment plan, follow their diet, and plan.

Myth 7: “Diabetes is contagious.”

This is one of the weirdest diabetes myths out there. You cannot catch diabetes from another person. It is neither infectious nor contagious,  however, there appears to be a genetic link. This means you are at increased risk of having diabetes if there is a history of diabetes in your family.

Diabetes is commonly misunderstood, and should you have any questions or feel at risk, please see a doctor. Proper nutrition and exercise as stated above can lower the risk. Finally, getting an Avon HMO health plan for you and your loved ones ensures you can regularly carry out wellness checks and properly manage your health.

Source: American Diabetes Association

Also Read: 10 Nutrition Tips That Will Improve Your Health

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