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The Sweet Life: Celebrating World Diabetes Month

November is World Diabetes Month. That means it’s a great time to dispel myths and share some facts about this condition that children with type 1 diabetes and their families understand from experience. If you’re in one of these families, your daily triumphs are worth celebrating this month. As UPMC Health Plan pediatric case managers, we encourage you to tell your story, advocate for those with diabetes, and participate in fundraising for diabetes research. Now, let’s get down to the mythbusting.

 

Myth: Eating sugar causes diabetes.

Truth: Eating sugar does not cause diabetes. The actual cause of type 1 diabetes is unknown, but there are a few theories. It is thought to be an autoimmune disorder, which means that the body mistakenly destroys its own insulin-producing cells within the pancreas. Other theories include genetics and viruses as culprits.

 

Myth: People with type 1 diabetes should eat special diabetes foods.

Truth: A person with type 1 diabetes can eat any kind of food. They just need to have insulin administered, since they can’t make their own. People with type 1 diabetes learn the amount of insulin to use for what they plan to eat. Eating a diet high in sugar and carbohydrates is not recommended and may cause higher blood sugars overall, but having an occasional treat is fine. This is good advice for people who don’t have diabetes, too!

 

Myth: High blood sugar (or hyperglycemia) is only caused by eating a lot of carbohydrates or high-sugar foods.

Truth: Many things affect blood sugar levels. These things can include hormonal changes in the body, temperature changes in the environment, a lack of sleep, dehydration (or not taking in enough fluid) and illnesses. Because illnesses may cause unstable blood sugar levels, it is highly recommended that those with diabetes and their family members get a flu shot. (UPMC Health Plan members receive flu shots at no charge. If you are a member who already paid for a flu shot, you can submit a reimbursement form.)

 

Myth: People with diabetes want to be labeled “diabetic.”

Truth: Labeling someone as “diabetic” could have a negative impact on their emotional health. A person who has been diagnosed with diabetes is still the same person after diagnosis. They are still a baseball player, a dancer, a son, or a daughter. They just happen to have diabetes. Calling someone a “diabetic” implies a lack of hope or that they in some way caused their disease.

 

Myth: Over time, pain from finger sticks and insulin injections goes away.

Truth: The pain never lessens or gets better. Though a person with diabetes may learn to put on a brave face, finger sticks just plain hurt!

 

Our has more information on helping kids with type 1 diabetes enjoy healthy, active lives. You can also call UPMC Health Plan pediatric case managers at 1-866-778-6073. We are happy to help with diabetes education, resources, and tips.