If you've ever heard that diabetes is a communicable disease, don't worry – you're not alone. A lot of people believe this is the case, but it's actually a myth. Diabetes is not contagious in any way, shape, or form. In this blog post, we'll break down how diabetes is actually caused and dispel any myths about it being a communicable disease.

What Is a Communicable Disease?

A communicable disease is defined as "a disease that is capable of being transmitted from one individual to another." When most people hear the word "communicable," they automatically think "contagious." However, these two terms are not interchangeable. Just because a disease is communicable does not mean it is contagious.

Transmitting a communicable/contagious disease can happen in a number of ways:

  • Respiratory droplets (i.e. when an infected person coughs or sneezes)
  • Contact with contaminated surfaces (i.e. doorknobs, countertops, etc.)
  • Direct contact with an infected individual (i.e. sexual intercourse, sharing needles, blood)

As you can see, all of the above methods require some sort of physical contact between the individual who is sick and the individual who becomes sick. Diabetes is not caused by any of these methods – it is not transmitted through respiratory droplets, contact with contaminated surfaces, or direct contact with an infected individual.

What Is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a chronic disease and autoimmune disease that is characterized by high levels of sugar in the blood causing high blood glucose levels in the blood. There are two main types of diabetes:

Type 1 Diabetes

This type is caused when the body has deficient insulin production and does not create enough insulin. Insulin is a hormone that helps to regulate blood sugar levels. When your body does not produce insulin properly you are likely to have high blood glucose levels.

Type 2 Diabetes

Is mostly caused when the body does not properly use insulin and is mostly seen in people who are overweight or older.

In both cases, high blood sugar levels can lead to serious health complications if left untreated, including cardiovascular disease, stroke, kidney damage or kidney failure, and nerve damage like diabetic neuropathy or diabetic retinopathy.

Other types of diabetes are;

  • gestational diabetes
  • Latent Autoimmune diabetes in Adults (LADA)
  • Maturity onset diabetes of the young (MODY)

How Can You Get Diabetes?

The exact cause of developing diabetes is unknown. However, according to the American Diabetes Association, there are certain risk factors that can increase your chances of developing either type of diabetes:

Family History

If someone in your family has diabetes, you have an increased risk to develop the autoimmune disease.

Obesity

Being overweight or obese is a major risk factor for type 2 diabetes. In fact, about 80% of people with type II diabetes are overweight.

Excess abdominal fat is also a concern as it can lead to insulin resistance.

Age

The risk of type 2 diabetes increases as you age. This is likely because as we age, we become more sedentary and our bodies become less able to use insulin properly.

Certain ethnicities

Some ethnicities are at a higher risk for diabetes, including African Americans, Hispanic/Latino Americans, American Indians, Asian Americans, and Pacific Islanders.

Sedentary Lifestyle

A sedentary lifestyle (i.e. not getting enough exercise) is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes. Exercise is important because it helps to keep your body at a healthy weight, increase insulin sensitivity, and lower blood sugar levels.

As you can see, there is no mention of any communicable diseases being a cause of diabetes. This is because diabetes is NOT a communicable disease! So if you or someone you know has been diagnosed with diabetes, rest assured that it is not contagious in any way.

Is Diabetes Contagious?

Now that we've looked at what communicable diseases are and how they're transmitted, let's look at why diabetes is not a communicable disease.

As we mentioned earlier, in order for a disease to be communicable, it has to be capable of being transmitted from one individual to another. As we also mentioned, there are three main ways that this can happen: through respiratory droplets, contact with contaminated surfaces, or direct contact with an infected individual.

Since diabetes is not caused by any of these methods, it's a non-communicable disease. You can only get diabetes through the risk factors that we mentioned earlier, such as family history, obesity, age, and sedentary lifestyle.

Myths About Diabetes

Besides the myth that diabetes is a communicable disease, there are other myths about diabetes that circulate around. Let's debunk some of these myths:

Myth: Diabetes Is Not a Serious Disease.

Fact: Diabetes is a serious chronic disease that can lead to complications such as heart disease, stroke, kidney damage, and nerve damage if left untreated.

Myth: People With Diabetes Can't Eat Sugar.

Fact: While people with diabetes need to be mindful of their sugar intake, they can still enjoy sugary treats in moderation.

Myth: People With Diabetes Have to Inject Insulin.

Fact: While some people with diabetes do require insulin injections, this is not always the case. Other treatment options for diabetes include oral medication, lifestyle changes, and diet.

How to Live With Diabetes?

If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with diabetes, it's important to seek treatment right away to avoid complications. Treatment for diabetes typically includes drug therapy, lifestyle changes, and diet.

Making lifestyle changes such as getting regular exercise and eating a healthy diet is essential for managing diabetes. It's also important to monitor your blood sugar levels regularly and take your medication as prescribed by your doctor.

Well-known treatments for diabetes are insulin injections and blood sugar control but also oral medication is a solution in some cases.

Conclusion

In conclusion, diabetes is not a communicable disease. It is not contagious in any way, shape, or form. If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with diabetes, rest assured that it is not something that you can catch from another person.

About the Author

Ely Fornoville

Hi, I'm Ely Fornoville and I am the founder of Diabetic & Me. Being a type 1 diabetic since 1996 I developed a passion to help people learn more about diabetes. I write about diabetes and share stories from other diabetics around the world. I am currently using a Freestyle Libre CGM and a Minimed 640G insulin pump with Humalog.

View All Articles