By Sara Nicastro

The misconceptions surrounding Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes are something that the providers at Palm Medical Group try to clarify for their patients every day. Diabetes mellitus is a disease that is diagnosed when too much glucose (sugar) is found in the blood stream. Type 1, Type 2 and gestational diabetes are all linked because the level of glucose in the blood stream is elevated, but that is where the similarities end. They are very different diseases based on the cause of the elevated glucose, the path to diagnosis, methods of treatment and prevention.

Warning Signs of Diabetes

Increased thirst
Increased urination
Hunger
Tiredness
Unexplained weight loss
Vision changes
Flu-like symptoms
Unexplained infections
Numbness or tingling in the hands or feet

Common Myths About Diabetes:

Myth: Children are ALWAYS diagnosed with juvenile diabetes and adults are ALWAYS diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.
Reality: The term juvenile diabetes is no longer used for Type 1 diabetes due to the confusion and inaccuracy that it caused. According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control, there are approximately 1.25 million Americans living with Type 1 diabetes and more than 1 million are adults. Additionally, Dr. Serena Klugh shares that “Of the 40,000 people diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in the U.S. each year, an equal number are children and adults. In fact, we recently diagnosed a 78-year-old patient with Type 1 diabetes.”

Myth: A person’s body type determines the type of diabetes they are diagnosed with.
Reality: According to Dr. Betsy Palal, “Your size does not always determine what type of diabetes you have.” She recommends making sure that your health care provider orders the blood tests that can determine the difference between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. The two lab tests that can help differentiate between Type 1 diabetes and Type 2 diabetes are the GAD antibodies test and a c-peptide test. The GAD antibodies test can determine if your body is producing an antibody that is part of an autoimmune attack and a c-peptide test can determine whether your body is still making insulin, the two key differences between the two main types of diabetes.

Myth: If you take insulin, you have Type 1 diabetes.
Reality: Adriana Ruiz, PA-C shares a common misconception she sees with her patients is that once you are prescribed insulin, you have Type 1 diabetes. “Ultimately the cause is what defines Type 1 diabetes from Type 2 diabetes. Not the treatment.”

Myth: If diabetes runs in my family there is nothing I can do.
Reality: Both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes have a genetic predisposition that puts certain people at risk of being diagnosed. Diet and exercise can assist in preventing the onset of Type 2 diabetes for many. Preventing Type 1 diabetes is far more complicated and the subject of clinical trials. Locally, Palm Research Center hosts a Type 1 diabetes prevention clinical trial through the international research network known as TrialNet. According to Danielle Nakhle, PharmD, BCGP, TrialNet, through a JDRF and NIH grant, screens first-degree relatives of patients with Type 1 diabetes for certain biomarkers. If a person has two or more positive biomarkers, then TrialNet has different prevention trials the patient can be a part of to delay the onset of their Type 1 diabetes diagnosis.

Myth: The best measure of health when you have diabetes is your average blood sugar level as determined by your quarterly hemoglobin A1C test.
Reality: Because it is only a measure of average blood glucose levels, an A1C in a good range does not mean your blood glucose is well-controlled. “Not only is it important to manage your blood sugar to prevent complications in your kidneys and eyes, we also need to manage your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Having diabetes alone puts you at higher risk for cardiovascular events like a heart attack and stroke,” shares Amy Monrreal, PA-C.

“It is important to realize that when taking a blood glucose reading once a day, it is a snapshot of one second over the 86,400 seconds we have in a day. I encourage patients to try out the technology available to them to find the best fit for their lifestyle and help them capture trends and keep their blood glucose in a good range,” shares family nurse practitioner Ellen Neylon.

Type 1 diabetes is diagnosed worldwide and occurs in every race and nationality. The number of people diagnosed and living with diabetes is increasing in every population. While general awareness of diabetes is growing, the diagnosis and life with diabetes can appear differently in each person affected by the disease. It is important to find an educated medical professional to help you find an accurate diagnosis and the best treatment plan for your lifestyle.

For more information on diabetes, please visit diabetes.org or jdrf.org.

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