Whether you have been living with diabetes for many years, have been recently diagnosed or you support a loved one with diabetes, it can be overwhelming. Information can often seem confusing or conflicting, especially if you are not sure it’s from a reputable source.

Let’s look into the top assumptions to separate the myths from the facts!

Organ Donation

A YouGov survey revealed that 22% of people incorrectly thought that those with diabetes could not join the organ donation register1. In reality, having a medical condition such as diabetes does not necessarily prevent a person from becoming an organ or tissue donor.

As with any medical condition, it may be wise to check with your doctor or specialist, however, the decision whether organs or tissue are suitable for transplant is made by a medical specialist at the time of donation2.

Organ Donor Card

Enjoying Sweet Treats

Shockingly, almost a third of people thought people with diabetes need to have a completely sugar-free diet! However, most can enjoy a reasonable amount of sweet treats such as chocolate or cake. In fact, some people with diabetes use sweets to raise blood glucose levels if they fall too low.

You should ensure your overall diet is well balanced and healthy, eating low amounts of fat, sugar and salt whilst eating plenty of fruit and vegetables.

Personal Grooming

You may have heard that those with diabetes simply cannot cut their own toenails. You’ll be glad to hear that you may resume with this particular grooming task: the advice on toenail cutting applies to everyone3.

If you have diabetes you should keep your nails healthy by cutting them to the shape of the end of your toes. Don't cut them straight across, curved down the sides, or too short. It is safest to trim your nails with a pair of nail clippers and to use an emery board to file the corners of your nails. If it is difficult for you to care for your nails, you should seek help from a podiatrist.


The myth that people with diabetes are not safe behind the wheel is an old one, yet it still persists. In reality, if you have good control of your diabetes and have no complications that may affect your ability to see clearly or maintain concentration, research shows that you are no less safe on the road than anyone else.


Fighting Fires

Having diabetes makes you no less capable of fighting fires - whether these be work emergencies, arguments between your kids or, quite literally, fighting real-life fires. Diabetes should not stop you from getting and keeping a job, so if your dream is to be a Firefighter or any other awesome career, go for it!

The Equality Act 2010 protects people with type 1 diabetes from discrimination at work whilst requiring an employer to make reasonable adjustments, such as taking breaks to check your blood glucose levels4.

Staying Active

Diabetes shouldn’t stop you being active - in fact, you are encouraged to exercise, in order to help maintain a healthy lifestyle! Keeping active can reduce the risk of complications that are associated with diabetes, such as heart disease. You may have to take some considerations into account: if you have any problems with your feet, then you may want to choose less weight-bearing activities such as swimming or chair-based exercises, for example.

Staying Active

Steve Redgrave, the Olympic gold medal-winning rower, has achieved great sporting achievements whilst living with diabetes, as has Henry Slade and Chris Pennell (England rugby internationals), Ben Coker (Southend United footballer) and Muhammed Ali (British boxer). It just goes to show that the sky really is the limit. 

If you have any worries about having a hypo whilst exercising and those around you not knowing what is wrong or how to support you, make sure your MedicAlert bracelet is on you at all times to keep you safe. Our Activity Band and Sports Bands are perfect for those on the go, whilst our Wristband Tags are designed to fit activity trackers and smartwatches!

Do Your Research

There are many myths out there surrounding diabetes, but there are also lots of really helpful and reliable sources too! If you ever feel that something doesn’t feel right, make sure you find out the real facts. Talk to your doctor or consultant, read more on the Diabetes UK website or even call their team for the latest and more relevant information.

Make sure you also keep yourself safe at all times with MedicAlert membership. Find out how MedicAlert supports those with diabetes to remain active and independent.


1 Diabetes UK (Diabetes Week 2014)
2 Organ Donation NHS (Who can become an organ donor?)
3 Diabetes UK (Myths and frequently asked questions)
4 JDRF (Work)

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