Myth:“You must have OD’d on sugar to get type 1 diabetes.”
“Type 1 is like being hit by lightning. It happens sometimes, and it’s not anybody’s fault,” says Steven Griffen, MD, a vice president for JDRF (formerly called the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation). “Unfortunately, we don’t know exactly what causes type 1 diabetes, and researchers are still trying to get a clear picture about genetic and environmental factors that may play roles, including exposure to viruses or bacteria that live in your gut.”
One thing we do know, though, is that it’s not brought on by too much sugar.
Myth: You get type 1 diabetes from making unhealthy lifestyle choices.
Fact: People with type 1 diabetes didn’t do anything wrong. Doctors believe the cause of the disease is a combination of genetics and some external environmental trigger (but not junk food or lack of exercise). When one identical twin contracts type 1 diabetes, there’s only a one-in-three chance that the other twin will also get it.
Myth: Type 1 diabetes is a children’s disease.
Fact: It hasn’t been called “juvenile diabetes” for more than two decades, because type 1 diabetes can be diagnosed at any age, and one doesn’t outgrow it. In fact, more than half of people with type 1 diabetes are over 18.
Myth:“Could it come from getting a vaccine as a kid?”
Fact: Scientists haven’t found a link between vaccines and type 1 diabetes.
Myth:“You put on too much weight. That’s what caused it.”
Fact:No, weight is not to blame for the disease, either. Obesity and inactivity are big risk factors for type 2 diabetes and many other health problems, but there’s no such connection to type 1.
Myth:“Oh, you have the ‘bad’ kind of diabetes.”
Fact:There’s no “good” kind of diabetes, nor is it a matter of better or worse. Types 1 and 2 are different, and they have to be managed as such.
Myth: “I can’t catch it, can I?”
Fact: Nope. Diabetes is not contagious.Type 1 diabetes is not an infectious disease. Although doctors don’t know exactly why people develop type 1 diabetes, it cannot be “caught” from another person like a cold or flu.
Myth: “No sweets for you!”
Fact: Wrong. In fact, that’s just what the doctor orders when blood sugar nosedives, a condition called low blood sugar or “hypoglycemia.”
You can eat or drink anything you want in moderation as long as you take the right amount of insulin to balance out the carbohydrates.
Myth: “It’s probably not a good idea to play sports.”
Fact:If you pay attention to how you feel and closely watch your blood sugar levels to adjust as needed, you can stay safe and reap the rewards of getting involved in sports.
Sometimes the disease can be hard to control, even when you stick to your meal plan and dosing schedule.
Many things — including stress,physical activity, hormone changes, periods of growth, and illness — can cause your blood sugar to swing out of control. Ups and downs don’t mean you’ve done anything wrong.
Myth: “When can you stop the insulin? Shouldn’t you be cured by now?”
Fact: Taking insulin keeps people with type 1 diabetes alive. They must have it, but it doesn’t make the disease go away.
There is no cure, but scientists are making major strides. Life-changing treatments, including new classes of drugs, insulin pumps, continuous glucose monitors and, someday, maybe even an “artificial pancreas” to fill in for a faulty original organ.
Ironically, recent advances have also created more misconceptions. Those go something like this:
Myth: “Why don’t you get one of those devices to check your blood sugar for you?”
Fact:For many people, certain technology isn’t an option. It can be expensive, and insurance may not cover the cost.
There is a misconception that just because it is out there, anyone can get it, which is not true at all.
Myth:“Thank goodness you have that pump so you don’t have to worry about your blood sugar.”
Fact: When people find out you have an insulin pump, they think it automatically fixes your blood sugar.
The pump helps a lot, but every time you put food in your mouth,you have to do a math calculation, enter information, and give insulin unless your low, in which case you have to manually shut it off.
The reality is that managing type 1 diabetes is a 24/7 job.
It’s a complicated disease that affects all aspects of your life, but it shouldn’t keep you from doing anything you put your mind to.
You can eat what you want in moderation, you can play sports, drive cars,go to college,get a good job,get married, get pregnant, have kids… It just comes with a condition, which is being aware of the situation and managing your blood glucose levels.
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