The Truth About Diabetes

Bailey Posey, Co-Editor In Chief

Children are told to be careful with how much sugar they eat. Trick or Treating always entails spooky stories of rotten teeth and devices with needles on people’s arms. Children are scared into eating fruits and vegetables so nobody would get the ‘diabetes’ they were informed of. Instead of researching the disease, however, people seem to stigmatize diabetes. They often don’t stop and think about what it really means to be diabetic. What really is diabetes and why do people think so low of it? 


Diabetes is a very long lasting chronic disease that affects how one’s body takes glucose and sugars from food and releases them into the bloodstream. In a non-diabetic body, when one’s blood sugars go up, the pancreas releases insulin into the bloodstream. The insulin allows the cells to turn blood sugar into energy, which helps with overall glucose regulation. However, in a diabetic body the pancreas doesn’t function properly. Some may not produce enough insulin and some may not produce any insulin at all. This causes too much sugar to stay in the bloodstream which can cause many other long term health issues. 

Medtronic is an American medical device company, with many divisions such as Diabetes Management, Digestive & Gastrointestinal, Ear, Nose & Throat, Gynecological, etc. Jodi Fitterman is a registered dietitian and Clinical Specialist on the Profession Affairs and Medical Education team at Medtronic Diabetes. Fitterman shared information about the types of diabetes, “type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease and individuals have a lifelong physiological dependence on insulin because their body doesn’t make the insulin you need.  People don’t know the difference between the different types of diabetes.  Additionally, type 2 diabetes is progressive so individuals may end up needing insulin as well.  Lifestyle choices certainly do and can make a difference depending on what type of diabetes someone has (certainly helping with type 2 diabetes), but there are still individuals who require insulin.” 

5-10% of people with diabetes have type 1. Nicknamed T2D, type 2 diabetes usually develops over time in the middle ages of someone’s life. An estimated 90-95% of diabetics have type 2 diabetes. 

Having diabetes, no matter which type, is a large and involuntary commitment. Having diabetes entails calculating what one eats, constantly checking one’s blood sugar, correcting everything eaten by manually given or injected insulin, and much more. But, that doesn’t mean one with diabetes can never eat sugar or sweets again, which is a common misconception. In an interview, Fitterman touched on this: “…yes [carbs and sweets] have an impact on blood sugar but they are not off limits.  You just have [to] know how to manage your intake or insulin if you are on it around them… the diet for most people with diabetes is the same diet for everyone – a healthy and balanced meal plan.”

Diabetes, however, is very misunderstood. The majority of people have no real idea about how it works, or what to do in case something happens to a diabetic person. Many diabetic people have bracelets and wallpapers on their phone that let people know that they have diabetes. So, in case something happens to them in public, people know to call 911 and are enlightened of the whole picture. But, what if there’s no time? Or cell service? Many things can affect the smoothness and speed of the help arriving, so one may have to take things into her own hands. “Some common symptoms include feeling shaking, sweating, dizziness, nervousness or anxiety, irritability, confusion, rapid heart rate – if someone is experiencing a low and can swallow, use rapid acting carbohydrates to treat [like] regular soda (NOT diet)juice/hard candy/glucose tablets (3-4)/honey or syrup.  A low blood sugar is considered anything <70 mg/dL…If you have a close friend/relative on insulin, you can ask them where they keep their glucagon pen in case of emergencies – This is another way to treat a severe low if the person is unable to ingest anything.”

As a community, being knowledgeable about diabetes can help create a safer place for those who have to live with it. Whether reading an article, watching a youtube video, or attending a public discussion, it’s all contributing to cultivating an educated environment for everyone with and without diabetes.