Do you or someone you know have diabetes?
UNDATED (CNN) -- You hear an awful lot about diabetes these days. That's because millions of Americans are being diagnosed with it every year. But how can you tell fact from fiction when it comes to knowing about the disease?
Paul Tibbits Junior has been a type 1 diabetic since he was a child. He's learned to live with the illness, and tries to exercise and watch his diet to stay healthy. He says it takes planning. What's most difficult is dealing with people's misconceptions. Tibbits says, "People assume , oh you take a shot of insulin or you take a pill and everything's fine and it's not. You have to make decisions every single day that affect your blood sugar levels."
Accroding to the National Institutes of Health, diabetes affects 25.8 million people of all ages, that's over 8 percent of the U.S. population. Yet many Americans know little about it. The stories about diabetes have become legend and many are wrong. Let's clear some up.
First off, only heavy people get diabetes. Dr. Linda Yau with Foxhall Internists says, "People who are thin or just a little bit overweight can have diabetes."
And a bad diet is the major cause of the disease, but really there's more. Dr. Yau says, "It's not just diet, but it's also lack of exercise / and they have it in their family."
Another myth, diabetes is not serious. Dr. Yau says, "That's not true. It's probably the biggest risk factor for people going on dialysis long term, it's also one of the biggest risk factors for heart disease and stroke."
Things Paul Tibbits has learned from being a diabetic.