Debunking the misinformation and stigma around Type 2 diabetes

As National Diabetes Month is recognized across Canada, many Canadians have a close friend, colleague or family member that is living with the disease. It’s estimated 11.7 million people have Type 1 diabetes, Type 2 diabetes or pre-diabetes, conditions that prevent the body from making insulin, or properly managing the insulin it makes.

While the number of people living with the disease continues to climb and that costs the Canadian health-care system $30 billion annually, Dr. Christine Palmay, a family physician and contributor to digital health-care platform Care to Know, says there continues to be misinformation and stigma about the chronic disease. She worries this may, in part, contribute to the large numbers of undiagnosed Type 2 diabetes cases that are not being identified or managed.

“There are several different types of diabetes and reasons why someone will develop it at different stages in their lifetime,” says Dr. Palmay. “It’s not a matter of eating too much sugar or having a lack of willpower. There is no one common cause that fits with all types of diabetes. However, once we learn more about it, we can recognize symptoms and advocate for our better health.”

The most common misconceptions about Type 2 diabetes:

  • Myth: Diabetes is always noticeable by symptoms
    • Truth: Some people with the disease may not experience noticeable symptoms for a long time. Regular check-ups and screening are important for early detection.
  • Myth: Diabetes is not a serious condition
    • Truth: Diabetes is a chronic condition that can lead to serious health complications if not properly managed. It’s associated with stroke, heart disease, kidney disease, vision loss and nerve damage.
  • Myth: Once diagnosed, diabetes can be cured
    • Truth: Diabetes is not curable, but it can be effectively managed through lifestyle changes and medications.
  • Myth: Managing diabetes with medication is a sign of failure in controlling blood sugar levels naturally
    • Truth: Diabetes medications are tools that help to manage the condition effectively and play a vital role in attaining target blood glucose levels.
  • Myth: Only obese people get diabetes
    • Truth: While obesity is a risk factor, thin individuals can also develop the condition. Genetics, ethnicity, age and lifestyle are also factors that can affect the likelihood of having the condition.
  • Myth: Diabetes is caused by eating too much sugar
    • Truth: While overconsumption of sugar can lead to obesity, diabetes is a complex condition dependent on genetic, lifestyle and other health factors such as high blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

Find free information and updates on many health-related topics including Type 2 diabetes at caretoknow.ca

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