Patient's perception about diabetes has not changed much in the over forty years, says Dr. Gerald Bernstein who has been practicing medicine at two major NYC hospitals.
In fact, he still sees the same viewpoints today as when he was a former director of the Beth Israel Health Care Systems Diabetes Management Program years ago.
"In this day and age, I still get patients who believe that they developed diabetes from eating too much sugar," says Dr. Bernstein. Although doctors and researchers are still unsure what causes the disease, Dr. Bernstein insists, "bad eating habits such as too much refined sugars, empty carbohydrates, and fructose does not cause diabetes."
Below are some of the most prevalent myths surrounding diabetes. "Baby boomers who were raised with misconceptions about the disease may be at risk," advises Dr. Bernstein, who is also the director of medical affairs at Generex Biotechnology Corporation, a biotechnology company engaged in the research, development, and commercialization of drug delivery systems and technologies for patients with diabetes. "There is no substitute for knowledge."
Diabetes Will Make You Go Blind: According to Dr. Bernstein, while it is true that all people with diabetes are at risk of blindness, heart problems, and renal disease, it is equally true that in this day and age a smaller percentage actually experience the full brunt of such complications than 30 years ago. "The better the patient controls his or her blood sugar, the less likely the more serious complications associated with diabetes will progress. Anyone already experiencing the side effects of diabetes needs to achieve and maintain the most stringent possible control in order to minimize their further progression."
Since I Don't Have To Inject Insulin, My Diabetes Isn't A Serious Condition: A surprising number of people still believe this falsehood. Non insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (type 2 diabetes) can produce destructively high blood glucose levels if not kept under control. Type 2 diabetes often grows more severe with time, so a patient who starts with low numbers will probably need to progress to from diet-and-exercise-based blood sugar control, then to oral diabetes medications. It is often better to start with insulin early rather than waiting to use it as a last resort.
Many older patients are finding their "oral meds" have become ineffective with time, and may need to switch to insulin injections to maintain effective diabetes control. "Type 2 diabetes, even pre-diabetes is serious even if your blood sugar isn't that high," warns Dr. Bernstein. New methods such as an oral insulin such as Generex Oral-lyn™, an insulin spray for the treatment of type I and type II diabetes that works by delivering insulin via the membranes of the oral cavity via a simple inhaler-like device.
I Can't Eat What I Like Anymore: That's a misconception considering that what is now coined the "diabetic diet" is actually a well-balanced, sensible food plan that would be healthy for anyone to adopt, with or without the disease. "Keep in mind, you can 'have your cake and eat it too' but if you want to eat something rich in carbs, you will need to balance it out by cutting an equivalent amount of carbs or sugar from somewhere else in your diet," suggests Dr. Bernstein. "Patients have a good deal more flexibility in their diets than they might suspect; the rest is just a matter of care and moderation." Very often you can eat what you want BUT just not as much as you want.
I Can Tell If My Blood Sugar Levels Are Too High Or Too Low: "This myth is dangerous because you can wind up in the hospital if you ignore symptoms of hyperglycemia, which is hard to detect by the way you feel," says Dr. Bernstein. "Making do without a regular blood glucose tests is like flying without a parachute or crossing the street with your eyes closed. You're guessing. Learn your body's signals when you get into trouble, but be certain to use your glucose monitor to be sure." Dr. Bernstein also advises people with diabetes to carry a Glucose RapidSpray™, that can quickly, conveniently and efficiently deliver glucose to the mouth via an easy to use spray bottle at the first sign of glucose deficiency.
Diabetes Is The Beginning Of The End: "I still get patients who believe their lives are over once complications set it," says Dr. Bernstein. "The reality is that with the development of proper skills and mindset and the possession of monitoring equipment, patients with diabetes can continue to live full lives, even with severe complications. Many diabetics, even insulin-dependent, live well into old age.
"Pay attention to your body. Keep ahead of what your diabetes is doing—for baby boomers, this is no time for surprises! Consult with your doctor, or your diabetes educator. Discuss exercise plans, and any adjustment in medications, with your doctor, first."