The internet gives us the ability to research anything, including diseases, from the comfort of our own homes. Often, we use the information that we find on sites such as WebMd to diagnose and treat ourselves. While I would always air on the side of caution and visit a doctor, these sites can help save time and provide useful information for immediate treatment. However, you can’t always trust what you see posted on the internet.
As the philanthropy and outreach coordinator for Socks4life.com, I wanted to start a project that would give back to the diabetes community. I spoke with many customers and asked them what I could do to help give back, and was shocked by the responses. I was assuming they would ask us to volunteer for events, donate money or products to a cause (both of which we do), or ask for general information in a nifty resource. The customers I spoke to didn’t want anything for themselves; they wanted a resource to teach the public.
I heard stories of several outrageous myths that these patients with diabetes came across that were mind boggling to me. We heard some really crazy myths, such as patients with diabetes should avoid the amount of exercise they do. Although myths and rumors do arise from misinformation, we were shocked when we saw some of these on reputable websites, blogs, and forums. How could they post something that is so inaccurate? We were petrified to think what would happen when people start to believe these myths to be facts. Would someone really believe the website and stop exercising due to fears of hypoglycemia (which is a risk, but the benefits of exercising FAR outweigh this risk).
The biggest piece of misinformation that really upset patients with diabetes, especially those with type 1 diabetes, is that people believe both types of the disease are the same. In reality, they are very different, but many never stop to listen and learn about the differences. Those with type 1 diabetes only make up roughly 5-10% of patients with diabetes, so we believe that they are just like the rest of patients who have type 2. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease, where the pancreas is unable to produce the insulin hormone. Unfortunately, patients with type 1 will require insulin until a cure is found.
On the other hand, of the patients with type 2 diabetes, roughly 80% can reduce or eliminate their insulin dependency by making lifestyle choices that promote weight loss. While genetics and family history certainly factor into determining whether one develops the disease, the majority can control it. This is untrue for those with type 1, yet many patients with type 1 that I spoke to have had people give them weight loss advice. How would you feel if someone told you the awful disease you were living with cold be controlled if you lose weight, and you knew it couldn’t?
Patients with type 1 want others to understand that their disease is very different from type 2, and we should respect that. For reasons like this, my team is working to help de-bunk common diabetes myths, including this one. We started by creating this info graphic to help spread the truth behind diabetes:
Adam is the philanthropy and outreach coordinator for Socks4life.com who is helping to de-bunk common diabetes myths in addition to fundraising for a cure. He also helps patients with neuropathy find the best diabetic socks from Socks4life to maximize comfort. When he isn’t busy at work, he enjoys traveling and trying new restaurants.