Sugar Matters
May 6, 2011
Type 1 diabetes: myths versus facts

This week, we will go through some basic facts and myths about Type 1 diabetes. You may be asking: Why bother? Isn’t Type 1 the same as Type 2? Truth is that Type 1 diabetes can look like Type 2 diabetes in some ways, but generally is quite a different disease.{{more}} I get asked many questions about Type 1 diabetes, often from folks with incorrect information under their belts. So this week, let’s start with correcting some common misconceptions about Type 1 diabetes:

“Type 1 diabetes happens only in children”-MYTH-while in the past we thought of Type 1 diabetes as happening only in children, and was thus for a long time called “juvenile diabetes,” we know now that this is not the case. What defines Type 1 diabetes is not age, but instead the reason for the disease and the absence or presence of your own insulin. Type 1 diabetes is autoimmune disease meaning that the body destroys its own insulin-producing cells. In addition, it is characterized by deficiency of your own insulin. This disease does more often show up in younger people BUT more and more it is being recognized that many adults have Type 1 diabetes. Sometimes it is a totally new diagnosis, showing up a lot like it does in kids (suddenly sick, drinking a lot, peeing a lot , losing weight etc), and at other times it is discovered in folks previously thought to have Type 2 diabetes. Remember, it is not age that dictates Type 1 or Type 2. It is the CAUSE of diabetes and absence or presence of insulin in your body that tells you which is which.

“People with Type 1 diabetes can “wean” themselves off insulin”-MYTH-if you have true Type 1 diabetes you will NEED insulin for your lifetime. That said, in some people with Type 1 diabetes there can be a short “honeymoon period” where their own bodies make a small amount of insulin after being treated for a while. However, this honeymoon period is usually short and those folks go right back to needing insulin to survive. So all in all, a true Type 1 diabetic needs insulin to survive.

“People with Type 1 diabetes cannot play sports, have children, drive etc”-MYTH-People with Type 1 diabetes can do anything and everything that non-diabetics can do, IN GENERAL. What may prevent them from doing so may be related to how well their diabetes is controlled. For example, if you happen to have Type 1 diabetes that is poorly controlled and you lose your vision because of that, clearly you then cannot drive. We advise women with poorly controlled diabetes, Type 1 OR 2, not to become pregnant when their blood sugar control has been poor because of risks associated with that specific issue. But again, in general, having Type 1 diabetes does not stop you from doing most things (job specifics may be a different story).

“Type 1 diabetes can happen to anyone” -FACT. This disease has been reported in men, women, children, and people of every racial background, young and old. It does not discriminate. It does happen more in people with family history of autoimmune diseases, but you do not need to have a family history to be at risk.

That starts our series! Until next week, stay safe and healthy Vincies!

Anita Ramsetty, MD

Medical Director Endocrine Care Group

Tel: 843-798-4227