You'd be shocked to know how many diabetes myths you may believe

One of the things I do is speak to fellow patients to help educate them about taking care of their diabetes. Often I’ll talk to a support group or at a health fair. I’m not a medical person but a peer-mentor who’s been trained to deliver a few educational programs and I have become extremely knowledgeable due to writing a book that just came out about diabetes myths.

I just returned today from Worcester, Massachusettes where I spoke to a group of about 100 patients about a lot of confusion around insulin. The audience, largely type two seniors, came from near and far and come monthly to attend this support group. They were as a result pretty educated. Yet, as educated and committed to learning as this group is, there were still many myths about insulin, and diabetes, that they believed. It was great to see light-bulbs go on all around the room as I helped them sort out the many myths and truths that add to the daily confusion about managing diabetes.

I would guess that those of us here at Tudiabetes are pretty smart about diabetes and always seeking out information and education from our health care providers and each other, but even I, a diabetes peer-mentor and author, learned a lot I didn’t know last year when I wrote my book debunking 50 top myths about diabetes. Here are just a few of the myths and truths about insulin.

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. This is a big one for type 2s, and understandable 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. Another big one in the type 2 world.

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.

As a type 1 the myths that surprised me investigating for my book were:

Myth: If something were wrong with my foot I would know it.

Truth: You may not. If you have neuropathy you may have no feeling in your foot. One guy walked around with a model toy in his shoe all day and had no idea.

Myth: Once I begin using a bottle of insulin it has to be refrigerated.

Truth: It can be out of the fridge and effective for 28 days. After that, throw it away as it will begin to lose effectiveness and you won’t be able to tell if your rising blood sugar is due to weakened insulin or something else.

And my all time favorite, I think, is, “Type 1 diabetes is more serious than type 2.” They’re equally serious because they both can lead to the same complications if blood sugars aren’t managed. Plus, since many people with type 2 don’t take it seriously, it ends up being more serious. If you’d like to test your own knowledge, here’s the web site for my new book: and a short video about myths on Diabetes Health, ( If you wonder if something you believe is true or not, let me know.

I would counter T1 is “more serious” because PWT1D generally have it for longer periods of their lives and because there are often additional associated autoimmune disorders (such as celiac).

But I certainly agree that education and “not taking T2DM seriously” are critical issues with managing T2. Patients are often older, set in their ways, or tight enough on funds that both motivating PWT2D to make the lifestyle changes necessary for optimal diabetes management, and making those changes logistically possible, are perhaps the most challenging aspects of T2 caregiving/caresharing.

Well I can’t say I ran into any of those myths in the 25 odd years I’ve been exposed to diabetes … but I’ll say that to me injecting insulin doesn’t always hurt but about 75% of the time ya it does hurt (enough that I have to change where I started injecting for another spot that isn’t screaming at me). Also I never once had a painless injecting in hospital when they use to give me the insulin shot talk about wishing to give someone a black eye - BLEEP!

Awesome post - I’m working on a book of Q&As for parents of T1Ds with Kittie Wyne MD of UTSW, and you’ve given me some things to think about.