There are a few misconceptions of what it means to have diabetes. Diabetes can affect the young and old alike.
Some people don't need to take any medication whereas others need to take injections each day. The myths of diabetes also stretch far and wide.
Each form of diabetes will mean you will need to be aware of dietary carbohydrate intake and how it affects your blood glucose levels, and will need to ensure you get all the recommended diabetes checks each year.
What does it mean to have diabetes?
What it means to have diabetes will depend on what types of diabetes you have.
For a real time view of how others live with diabetes, visit the Diabetes Forum.
Will I need to give up treats?
One of the questions people ask is whether they will have to give up on their favourite foods. Having diabetes does mean you will need to be conscious of how different food affects your blood glucose levels.
People with diabetes will usually find that they can enjoy a treat from time to time but perhaps not as regularly, or quite as care free, as they could before their diagnosis.
For some people, a diabetes diet may present the opportunity to find enjoyment in new foods.
Will I need to take injections?
This depends on the type of diabetes you are diagnosed with.
People with type 1 diabetes will need to go onto insulin injections.
People diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and most other types of diabetes will usually be treated with diet and exercise or tablets but may be out onto injections if blood glucose levels remain too high.
How do I know what my blood sugar levels are?
People with diabetes can check their blood sugar levels by using a blood glucose meter. This involves using a device which pricks your finger, drawing a droplet of blood and the meter measures the level of sugar in the blood.
- Video guide: Testing your blood glucose
Will I be able to take part in my favourite hobbies or sports?
The answer to this question is largely a yes. There are very few hobbies which diabetes should prevent you from continuing. People with diabetes have been rock and pop stars, footballers, racing drivers, dancers and politicians.
For more dangerous hobbies, such as car racing or deep sea diving, these may not be as accessible to people on certain medication, such as insulin.
Will I go blind or need to have amputations?
It’s not a pleasant subject but it’s a question that gets asked quite regularly by people newly diagnosed. Statistically, people with diabetes have a higher risk of blindness and amputations than the general population, however, these dreadful complications are avoidable.
Will I be able to drive?
In most cases, diabetes should not be a barrier to driving. One of the important issues with driving with diabetes is hypoglycemia (low blood glucose levels), which can affect people on insulin and certain diabetic tablets.
Drivers at risk of hypoglycemia need to be fully capable of spotting the symptoms of low blood sugar levels to avoid accidents at the wheel.
Will I be able to get a job or keep my existing job?
There are very few jobs for which people with diabetes are not able to do.
People with diabetes may not be eligible to be employed in certain military positions.
Being on certain diabetic medication may also prevent you from more dangerous jobs such as becoming an airline pilot or diving instructor.
If driving is a part of your work, you may need to meet certain criteria to continue. Read more on diabetes and employment.
Will I have diabetes forever?
At the current time, most diagnoses of diabetes will mean having the condition for life.
The exception to this is pregnant women who develop gestational diabetes.
Gestational diabetes develops during pregnancy but will often go after the pregnancy is over.
Women who develop gestational diabetes have an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life but this can be delayed or prevented by adopting a healthy lifestyle.
People with type 2 diabetes have been in the news for reversing their diabetes, however, it’s important to note that these people have not been cured but have instead been able to come off medication and control their diabetes by lifestyle alone.
What does having diabetes mean to you? Leave your thoughts in the Diabetes Forum.