With diabetes affecting almost 26 million people in the United States, one would think that most Americans are informed about the disease to know the basic facts. We should also be able to pick out certain myths that are so outrageous, there is no way they can be true. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case and some people, no matter how good their intentions are, truly offend diabetics. From talking with several people with the disease, managing diabetes is extremely difficult and the misinformation out there can make this task even more difficult.
As the philanthropy and outreach coordinator for Socks4life.com, I’ve had the pleasure of speaking to several customers who have diabetes. During these conversations, I asked them a few questions to see if/how we could help make managing their disease easier. As these talks progressed, the conversation turned to the current misinformation that is out on the internet about the disease. I was shocked to hear the outrageous myths that they have heard (you can see some of them here). Below are 5 of the craziest ones my team heard:
Diabetes can be spread through kissing- Absolutely 100% false! Unlike the common cold and other diseases such as mononucleosis, diabetes can’t be passed from one person to another. You can try as hard as you want, but no matter how long you kiss a person with diabetes, you can’t catch the disease from them!
If two people with diabetes have a child, that child will have diabetes- Although genetics and family history play a role in determining whether one develops diabetes, it isn’t the only factor. This also doesn’t mean that if two people with the disease have a child, the child will have the disease. There are several other factors that determine whether you’ll develop the disease.
People with diabetes have vision problems- Vision problems can occur as a consequence of not controlling your diabetes. However, this doesn’t mean that all patients with diabetes have vision problems. There are plenty of patients with the disease that have 20/20 vision!
Only children can develop type 1 diabetes- While people refer to type 1 diabetes as juvenile diabetes, you can develop type 1 diabetes later in life. The name is a little misleading, but one should continually test for the disease into adulthood if your family history puts you into a high risk group.
Patients with diabetes are more likely to catch a cold- This is completely false! It’s important for patients with diabetes to take extra precautions to prevent getting ill, since managing the disease is much trickier while ill. While patients with diabetes might take extra precautions to prevent illnesses, such as getting vaccinated against the flu, this doesn’t mean they are more likely to catch that disease.
Patients with diabetes live very difficult lives, and the public can make their lives even more complicated with this misinformation. It becomes even worse when people believe some of these outrageous myths to be facts. How would you feel if someone you dated wouldn’t kiss you because they were scared of “catching” diabetes? Or if someone constantly questioned you because they thought you had vision problems since you were diabetic? The least the public can do is to squelch these rumors when we hear them. We should do our best to help provide the truth behind the disease!
Adam Bruk is the philanthropy and outreach coordinator for Socks4life.com