Insulin myths and truths

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I’ve just returned from Worcester, Massachusettes where I spoke to a group of about 100 patients about a lot of confusion around insulin. It was a great group, it was a great talk. The audience, largely type two seniors come from near and far to attend this monthly support group. They were curious and engaged and I always get energized when speaking to such a group. 

Yet, as educated and committed as this group is to their knowledge and care, there were still some myths about insulin and diabetes that they believed. It was great to see light-bulbs go on all around the room as they learned the truth.

Insulin Myths:

Myth: Shots hurt. People envision the big syringes and long painful needles they sometimes get a shot with at their doctor’s office. 

Truth: Shots rarely hurt. Needles are as small as 1/4 of an inch and extremely thin. Also, the needle goes into the skin where there are few nerve endings. 

Myth: If I need insulin, I’ve failed. It’s understandable you might think this as doctors often present and use insulin as a last resort. 

Truth: If your doctor recommends insulin it’s because it’s the best treatment to manage your blood sugar. Increasingly the American Diabetes Association is recommending earlier intervention with insulin to get patients under better control quicker.

Myth: People who use insulin have worse diabetes. After all if you have to take shots it must be really bad.

Truth: People who do not have control of their blood sugar have “worse” diabetes. Unmanaged blood sugar over time leads to diabetes complications and that’s as bad as it gets.

Myth: Only people with type 1 diabetes can wear an insulin pump. 

Truth: Most people who wear a pump have type 1 diabetes because everyone with type 1 is on insulin, but many people with type 2 who take insulin also wear a pump.

After my presentation the questions came fast and furious and I realized once again how much I know having written my recent book, 50 Diabetes Myths That Can Ruin Your Life:  And the 50 Diabetes Truths That Can Save It.” As the title says, myths degrade the quality of our lives and accurate information empowers us to live well. You’d be amazed how much you believe is true about diabetes, isn’t.

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