Sadly, even in a time of easily accessible social media, online resources and innumerable TV programmes to choose from, there still appears to be numerous myths or misconceptions that surround both Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes. That is if the distinction between the two is even made!
Misgivings can include, but are not exclusive to the following:
- Diabetes is contagious - sadly I have been asked "Am I going to catch it?" on more than one occasion...
- All people have diabetes because of what they eat and they must have been obese at some point. Again, I have been asked how obese I was as a child...
- That there is only one type of diabetes, or the viewpoint that the distinction between the types are that there's one where you have 'too much sugar' and another where you have 'not enough sugar'.
- Diabetes means we are allergic to sugar and therefore just simply need to avoid it...and all is fixed! If only that one was true eh?!?
So where do these fallacies come from? Well as a person trying to tackle them, the answer is sadly, a whole host of sources. A major one though is the media. By the term media, I mean tv programmes where insulin is given to treat a hypo (this could in fact actually kill someone with diabetes), news reports where the type is unclear or completely inaccurate, social media where posts are published about miraculous treatments or diets that 'cure all diabetes' and newspaper articles that report on 'facts on diabetes' that essentially, are completely fictional.
I would love to say that this is the only cause of the problem. However, the lack of awareness of diabetes in general, let alone the types, is a HUGE failing. The absence of any appreciation for the causes, symptoms and treatments of diabetes is the norm in most societies, as well as the recognition of the ever-growing prevalence of diabetes among populations in countries throughout the entire world.
So, what can we do about this? I would say that all of us can take different actions to try and tackle this issue and eradicate the distorted and propagandised views of diabetes.
News reporters – please do your research thoroughly and make sure you state the type of diabetes that you're referring to in your writing. By using the facts, you will avoid causing offence in the masses, as well as those without diabetes to understand our daily lives a bit better. Equally, you may really help those who are at risk of Type 2 diabetes or those with symptoms of diabetes to seek the support of health care professionals if they see themselves in the facts given in news reports.
People without diabetes – please be aware that what you are currently hearing, seeing and reading may not be factually correct about diabetes. Therefore, please don’t assume that people have brought diabetes on themselves or that taking insulin or not eating cakes somehow ‘fixes’ everything. For those of you who believe you may be at risk of diabetes or are symptomatic…please seek support from your GP or hospital as soon as possible. I’m not trying to scaremonger, but hesitating really could put your life at risk!!!
Health care professionals – help to raise awareness without the stigma attached to it. We all appreciate the great and wonderful work that health care professionals do every day, however we (both people with and without diabetes) need support and understanding when it comes to diabetes diagnosis and treatments. All I would ask is that you recognise that the vast majority of us are doing our very best in terms of our health care, despite whether our health is deteriorating or we are struggling with certain aspects.
People with diabetes – spread the word! Despite the rise the in number of people with diabetes, the awareness of the condition and all it entails has not increased. Therefore, we need to be the mouthpiece that spreads the word about the reality of life with diabetes and to help those who have been ill-informed about diabetes to understand the facts. By sharing posts on social media, kindly correcting misconceptions amongst our friends and family and staying up to date on diabetes developments, we are doing our bit to help. Equally, I would say that the peer support is a huge part of diabetes. So, whether you are looking for advice from those living with diabetes, want to help others with a struggle you’ve already been through or simply want to chat and offload to people who understand, then get involved in your local and online diabetes groups.
I hope that with continued collaborative work between patients and health care professionals, local and national diabetes campaigns and news/ media engagement, the general public can become factually informed about diabetes in all its forms.
Thank you once again for taking the time to read my blog post.
Until next time, keep injecting 💉 or pumping 📟 insulin!