We all know how harmful myths and rumors can be, especially when they concern a disease that makes life difficult in the first place. As the philanthropy and outreach coordinator for Socks4life.com, I’ve had the privilege of speaking with several of our diabetic sock customers who battle the disease every day. They’ve told me how hard it is to live with the disease, and I asked them if there was anything we could do to make their lives easier. My team was astonished that they didn’t want us to do anything for them; they wanted us to inform the public of the facts behind diabetes.
I’ve heard stories of how difficult it is to live with diabetes, and I can’t imagine how awful it must be to constantly hear people claiming to be experts and stating myths as fact. Here are three of the most outrageous myths our visitors with diabetes shared with us:
- All forms of diabetes are the same: This couldn’t be further from the truth! The American Diabetes Associations claims there are three primary types of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes, also referred to as juvenile diabetes, is an autoimmune disease. Type 1 diabetics are unable to produce the insulin hormone, so they will require insulin until a cure is found. While type 1 diabetics make up five percent of the diabetes community, up to 95% have type 2, which is developed later in life. With type 2, the body doesn’t produce enough insulin, or the body starts to ignore the insulin hormones. Obesity and being overweight is a large contributing factor, but genetics also play a role. Gestational diabetes is a form of type 2 diabetes, but it develops during pregnancy. By now, you should notice that these forms of diabetes are not the same!
- Diabetes can be spread like an STD: This is an absolutely absurd myth that was shared with us by a teenager who is a freshman in college. He has type 1 diabetes and he was dating a girl for a few weeks that suddenly stopped returning his calls. When he bumped into her, she told him she stopped calling because she didn’t want to get involved with a guy that can pass along his disease. She really believed that her risk of developing diabetes increased by sleeping with someone with diabetes.
- Patients with diabetes shouldn’t drive: I couldn’t believe what I was hearing when a visitor shared this myth with me. This person was at a social gathering and volunteered to be the designated driver for the evening. Before anyone had anything to drink, someone in the group asked if he would be okay driving. When he said he wouldn’t have anything to drink, the other person responded with questions regarding his diabetes. He believed that patients with diabetes weren’t allowed to drive in the evenings because of vision problems that can accompany diabetes (which he didn’t have). Although he said that he shrugged it off, he felt a bit hurt by the comment.
Hurtful myths and rumors like these are not only inconsiderate to the patients with diabetes, but can be dangerous as well. Imagine what would happen if someone believed a myth to be fact, and then had a health consequence as a result of the misinformation. Imagine how bad someone with type 1 diabetes feels when they have to hear people telling them they can get better by losing weight? Or imagine dating a great person who suddenly stops talking to you because they are afraid of “catching diabetes”? Although we might not be able to give sound medical advice, we can be informed and spread the facts behind diabetes in hopes of ending these hurtful myths and rumors.
This post is from Adam, the philanthropy and outreach coordinator for Socks4life.com. When he isn’t busy working with the American Diabetes Association to donate time, money, and diabetic socks from Socks4life.com, he’s raising awareness of the facts to end hurtful myths and rumors.