Dr. Biplab Chatterjee
The other morning my WhatsApp messenger woke me up with a tinkle from a forwarded video. It was sporting a stout and handsome gentleman in his formals with a perfectly tied bow. Brandishing a test tube and equipped with a state-of-the-art laboratory set-up, he reminded me of our M.B.B.S. days at our alma mater, the Silchar Medical College.
The smart guy introducing himself as a doctor of certain academic inclination was demonstrating an experiment that was reverse to the principle of glycaemic norms of human physiology and amidst thunderous claps of a full house audience, the principles of modern medical science seemed to be battered and scattered to seek refuge in some corner of the room that wasn’t available sadly though!
Well, the point being that such countless pseudo-facts (if I may call them so) regularly flood the internet with confident claims of having found the ultimate cure for diabetes coupled with compulsory proclamations of even evidence being handy of the fact that diabetes as a whole is a lucrative industry for the Pharma industries under the patronage of the doctors!
The easiest available title which turns anybody into self-styled healthcare specialist, which is free for self-proclamation in our country, is what the above doctor was propagating and he has a lot of hapless and disillusioned souls to follow him.
Consumer companies (mostly chain business concerns) are literally churning out nutrition experts at random rate in every nook and corner of our country including villages, and have already avalanched the clinical area of one of the century’s biggest health problems like Diabetes. No wonder then that bottles containing unknown herbals or chemicals are sold at rates hundred times higher than that of the safest antidiabetic medicine which does really work wonder almost always!
As one of the innumerable registered physicians in our country after having received specialized training and qualification in diabetes care, the fact that always touches me the most while treating my diabetes patients is the set of limitations that their life gets subjected to on discovery of having diabetes for the first time.
The varying degree of anxiety, fear of consequences (equally fear of insulin) and social stigma pushes the newly diagnosed patients quickly to the brink of being drowned in their own bucket of fear till they are counseled (rather mis -counselled by some of these self-proclaimed professionals to try all those methods and practices which they have mastered themselves.
What on earth can cause more frustration for a competent diabetes practitioner than to observe a young lady in her twenties a juvenile diabetic with no history of treatment by modern medicine and presenting with severe end-organ damage with very limited options left for providing her a quality life free of hyperglycemia?
Yet the faith doesn’t seem to give way either. The concept of omens and an evil curse being the cause of so many organic diseases in our country refuse to die off in considerably educated individuals too.
Even if some individual tries to break the shackles to step under the light of scientific approach and treatment the ghost of nexus between pharma industry and doctors comes back to haunt the patients.
So I decided to familiarise those readers who would care to devote a few minutes to this writeup of mine with facts and bust the myths that thrive on the basis of likes, shares, and subscribers of our social media.
- Myth: Diabetes is caused by high sweet or sugar consumption.
Reality: There is no practical relationship between sugar intake and causation of diabetes. It can only increase the already abnormal sugar level in a known diabetic patient.
- Myth: Diabetes means insulin requirement and lifelong illness.
Reality: The proportion of patients requiring insulin in diabetics is less than those who can be kept normal or euglycemic with medications and lifestyle modification.
- Myth: Once insulin is started it can’t be stopped:
Reality: Definitely insulin can be discontinued in type 2 diabetes after variable periods of time if the sugar level comes under control.
- Myth: I have no symptoms so I don’t need treatment even if sugar is on the higher side.
Reality: It’s a time bomb ticking slowly but surely and once end-organ damage is done it will show the symptoms when it will be irreversible.
- Myth: Antidiabetic medicines have too many side effects. I will try for diet control and see.
Reality: Most of the modern antidiabetic medicines have minimal side effect and diet control is possible only under the guidance of expert dietician otherwise its worse than self-medication.
- Myth: My sugar reading in the morning is normal after taking herbal medicines. I am cured.
Reality: Fasting sugar level is not a reliable indicator at all when under some drugs. It never shows the prandial glucose homeostasis (maintenance) in the bloodstream. Full profile or OGTT (glucose tolerance test) is necessary.
- Myth: My sugar level has come down from 400 to 200. It’s time to stop the medicines.
Reality: Diabetes control is very much time bound and happens in a phased manner and mere remission should not be misunderstood as a cure.
These beliefs or myth are well ruminated year after year in the corridors of diabetes care organizations and health care institutions. I will join back soon for some further intriguing myth and facts on diabetes.
(Dr. Biplab Chatterjee has served for the last 18 years in both private and Government sector hospitals alike. Specializing in Diabetology and diabetes care from PHFI and the renowned Dr. Mohan’s Diabetes Academy, Chennai, he has managed exclusive diabetes and hypertension clinics for hospitals ranging from Ramakrishna Mission Hospital in Haldia West Bengal to Department of Atomic Energy Hospital at Tamil Nadu. At present, he is posted as the Chief Medical Officer-in-charge for Atomic Minerals Directorate, Govt of India at Shillong, Meghalaya.)