Diabetes Myths & Frequently Asked Questions
Knowing the facts about diabetes is important when it comes to managing the condition. There is so much information out there, but it is not all true. It is often difficult to know what is right and what is not. This section aims to help dispel some of the most common myths about diabetes – let’s have a look at some of them…
Myth: Type 2 diabetes is a mild form of diabetes
Fact: There is no such thing as mild diabetes. All diabetes is serious and, if not properly controlled, can lead to serious complications.
Myth: People with diabetes cannot have sugar
Fact: Having diabetes does not mean you have to have a sugar-free diet. People with diabetes should follow a healthy balanced diet – that is low in fat, salt and sugar. You should still be able to enjoy a wide variety of foods, including some with sugar.
Myth: People with diabetes should eat ‘diabetic’ foods
Fact: ‘Diabetic’ labelling tends to be used on sweets, biscuits and similar foods that are generally high in fat, especially saturated fat and calories. Diabetes UK does not recommend eating ‘diabetic’ foods, including diabetic chocolate, because they still affect your blood glucose levels, they are expensive and they can give you diarrhoea. So, if you are going to treat yourself, you should go for the real thing.
Myth: People with diabetes eventually go blind
Fact: Although diabetes is the leading cause of blindness in people of working age in the UK, research has proved you can reduce your chances of developing diabetes complications – such as damage to your eyes – if you:
- control your blood pressure, glucose, and blood fat levels
- keep active
- maintain your ideal body weight
- give up smoking.
Myth: People with diabetes can’t play sports
Fact: People with diabetes are encouraged to exercise as part of a healthy lifestyle. Keeping active can help reduce the risk of complications associated with diabetes, such as heart disease. Steve Redgrave, Olympic gold medal-winning rower, has achieved great sporting achievements in spite of having diabetes.
However, there may be some considerations to take into account before taking up a new exercise regime. Talk to your healthcare team for more information.
Myth: People with diabetes are more likely to get colds and other illnesses
Fact: You are no more likely to get a cold or another illness if you’ve got diabetes. However, people with diabetes are advised to get flu jabs. This is because any infection or illness interferes with your blood glucose control, putting you at risk of high blood glucose levels and, for those with Type 1 diabetes, an increased risk of ketoacidosis.
Myth: Having diabetes means you can’t do certain jobs
Having diabetes should not stop you from getting and keeping a job. However, despite the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA), people with diabetes still face blanket bans in some areas of employment, including the armed forces. Diabetes UK campaigns to lift discriminatory blanket bans.
Myth: People with diabetes can’t cut their own toenails
Fact: The general advice on toenail cutting applies to everyone. If you have diabetes you should keep your nails healthy by cutting them to the shape of the end of your toes. Don’t cut them straight across, curved down the sides, or too short. Remember, your nails are there to protect your toes.
It is safest to trim your nails with a pair of nail clippers and to use an emery board to file the corners of your nails. If it is difficult for you to care for your nails, you should seek help from a podiatrist.