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reviewed 10/5/2018

Diabetes: Myth or fact?

More than 30 million people in American have diabetes. And with 1.5 million people newly diagnosed with the disease each year, it's important for everyone to know the facts.

Myth or fact: Diabetes affects only adults.

Myth. There are only two main types of diabetes. Type 1 usually develops during childhood, though adults can get it too. Type 2 is often seen in people who are overweight. It typically affects adults, but children can also develop it.

Myth or fact: You may have diabetes and not realize it.

Fact. Symptoms of diabetes may include frequent urination, tiredness, excessive thirst, blurry eyesight and unintended weight loss. But some people with diabetes may not have symptoms—or their symptoms may be so mild they go unnoticed—which is why it's important to get screened.

Myth or fact: You can take steps to lower your risk of diabetes.

Fact. You can't prevent type 1 diabetes. But you can take steps to delay or prevent type 2 diabetes. Losing weight if you're overweight and being physically active are key. Ask your doctor if you are at risk—and what you can do about it.

Myth or fact. Diabetes increases your risk for heart disease and stroke.

Fact. People who have diabetes are at least twice as likely as those who don't to have heart disease or a stroke. It's essential to work with your doctor to monitor your risk of heart attack, stroke and other diabetes-related complications.

Myth or fact: If you have diabetes, you cannot eat sweets.

Myth. Most foods can have a place in the diets of people with diabetes. But it's important to be smart about food choices and know how they fit within your diabetes management plan. Keep portion sizes small, and make sure your overall diet is healthy.

Myth or fact: All people with diabetes must take insulin.

Myth. People with type 1 diabetes need to take insulin. But those with type 2 may be able to control their blood sugar levels with healthy eating and exercise—although medication and insulin may be needed later on.

Find out if you are at risk for type 2 diabetes and if you should be screened. Your doctor can help you take steps to reduce your risk or, if you do have it, manage the disease and avoid complications.

Discover your diabetes risk

Sources: American Diabetes Association; National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

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