In 2001, the National Health and Morbidity Survey (NHMS) reported at least 2.6 million Malaysians who have been diagnosed with diabetes. Although many of us have the disease, most do not understand this condition very well.
Myth 1 : Diabetes is the consequence of eating too much sugary food
This is both correct and incorrect. Not all patients contract diabetes for eating too much sugary food. You have a higher risk of contracting it if any of your family members (e.g parents and siblings) have it. If you are overweight, you will also have a higher risk of diabetes. A diet high in calories and fats (regardless if sweet or savoury) can lead to obesity. Therefore, if you want to reduce your risk of becoming obese, high calorie eating habits should be avoided.
If you would still like to eat sweet foods, take it in limited quantities and at the same time perform suitable exercises on a regular basis.
Myth 2 : Diabetes patients easily gets infections
If you are diabetic and do not control it well, it will be easier for you to contract communicable diseases compared to healthy individuals. In fact, diabetic patients have a higher mortality rate compared to healthy individuals in the event of a bacterial infection. Therefore, diabetic patients should take care of their personal hygiene especially their teeth, gums, and feet, as well as to check parts of the body for ulcers and clean them regularly to prevent bacterial infections on the wounded parts.
Myth 3 : My doctor punishes me with insulin and medications because I failed to control my diabetes
Diabetes mellitus type 2 is a result of the body tissues becoming resistant towards the effects of insulin produced by the body. Therefore, even when the sugar levels in the blood is high, the body tissues are unable to utilise the sugar effectively. This causes the blood sugar levels to remain high.
At the early stage of diabetes especially type 2, the condition can be overcome by controlling the calories in your daily consumption and exercising to achieve the ideal body weight. However for patients of diabetes type 2, their condition can deteriorate to the point where good eating habits and daily exercises is not enough to control the blood sugar level within the safe levels.
At this point, the doctor will prescribe medications including insulin to control the blood sugar levels. If you refuse to take these medications and your sugar content in the body remains high, consequences or complications may occur such as kidney failure, stroke, heart attack, or blindness due to cataract or diabetic retinopathy problems.
Myth 5: Diabetes is not a serious health problem
Do you know the cause for majority of kidney failures to the point where dialysis machine is required is diabetes?
Do you know that if you have diabetes, you have a higher risk of death from stroke or heart attack?
Do you know, diabetes is the top cause for blindness and loss of ability due to amputation among Malaysian adults?
Do you know diabetic patients have the potential to be diagnosed with a condition known as ‘diabetic ketoacidois’ or ‘hyperglycemic hyperosmolar syndrome’ that can cause death?
Are deaths and loss of abilities not major issues?
If you agree that diabetes is a major health issue, don’t take it lightly if your blood sugar levels are in excess and dangerously high levels. Many Malaysians do not realise that if they have diabetes because at the early stage, they do not exhibit any of these symptoms. Therefore, it is recommended to have your blood sugar levels regularly checked.
Myth 5 : Only older folks have diabetes
There are cases of children as early as 7 years old having diabetes. In the old days, child patients with diabetes usually consists of diabetes mellitus type 1 caused mainly by genetic factors and autoimmune diseases. There has been an increase in Malaysian children having diabetes type 2. Most of them are overweight and practice unhealthy eating habits. Parents are advised to control their child’s food consumption and avoid regularly having fast food or unhealthy snacks.
Children should be encouraged to start exercise at a young age so it becomes a healthy habit and practiced regularly as they grow up to become adults. Get them to participate in outdoor activities such as sports and extreme sports suitable with their age. Be supportive of them being active. This way, we can prevent obesity and control the increase of diabetes cases among children in Malaysia.
- Diabetes Malaysia http://www.diabetes.org.my/index.php
- Infosihat Malaysia http://www.infosihat.gov.my/infosihat/
- NADI Malaysia http://www.diabetesmalaysia.com.my
This article is written by a permanent columnist for the Malaysian Medical Gazette, Dr. Nur Hidayati. She specialises in internal medicine and is based at a hospital in Selangor. Find out more on The Team. This article was translated by Nur Nadhirah from http://www.mmgazette.com/5-mitos-tentang-kencing-manis/
- National Health and Morbidity Survey 2011