Oklahoma has more than 225,000 individuals who have diabetes, a disease that can lead to blindness, loss of limbs and even death — yet many residents, especially baby boomers, know very little about the medical problem. A New York doctor, Dr. Gerald Bernstein, is an expert who dispels many of the prevalent myths and misperceptions associated with diabetes, and he offers answers to questions about the disease.
Although doctors and researchers still are unsure what causes the disease, Bernstein insists, “bad eating habits such as too much refined sugars, empty carbohydrates, and fructose does not cause diabetes.”
So, he outlines some of the most prevalent myths surrounding diabetes.
Question: Diabetes Will Make You Go Blind?
Answer: According to Dr. Bernstein, while it is true that all people with diabetes are at risk of blindness, heart problems, and kidney disease, it is equally true that in this day and age, a smaller percentage actually experience the full brunt of such vision 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, he said.”
Question: Since I Don’t Have To Inject Insulin, My Diabetes Isn’t A Serious?
Answer: 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 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 soo-called 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,” Bernstein warns.
Question: I Can’t Eat What I Like Anymore?:
Answer: 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,” he advised.
Question: I Can Tell If My Blood Sugar Levels Are Too High Or Too Low?
Answer: “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,” said 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.”
Question? Diabetes Is The Beginning Of The End?:
Answer: “I still get patients who believe their lives are over once complications set it,” said 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.”