It’s Diabetes Awareness Month, and the WellPATH Employee Wellness Program has teamed up with Citizens Rx to provide you with important information about the importance of managing diabetes.
As of 2011, 18.8 million Americans have been diagnosed with diabetes. There are different types and causes of diabetes, but they all refer to high levels of sugar in the blood – officially known as “hyperglycemia.” Prolonged hyperglycemia can cause a range of negative effects on the body from eye and nerve damage to prolonged wound healing.
Fortunately, patients with diabetes have many options to effectively manage their blood sugar. Healthy lifestyle changes, like diet improvements and regular exercise, are important in controlling all types of diabetes, especially Type 2 Diabetes (the most common form in the United States). There are also many medications that can be used along with lifestyle modifications to manage blood sugar. Taking time to speak with your pharmacist can help you maximize the benefits from your medication(s) and minimize your risk of adverse drug reactions.
[togg title=”Monitoring Your Blood Sugar”]
As you maintain a healthy lifestyle and take recommended medications, your doctor will likely want you to monitor your blood sugar. This can be measured at home with a blood glucose meter. In addition to home blood glucose testing, measurement of your glycated hemoglobin, often referred to as shorthand “A1c,” can give your doctor an idea of what your average blood sugar has been over a three month period. These values are used to make adjustments in anti-diabetic therapy. Your doctor may also want to pay special attention to your eyesight or nerve function to prevent complications.
By making healthy lifestyle choices, taking medications as recommended by your pharmacist, and periodically meeting with your doctor, you can take control of your diabetes instead of letting it take control of you.[/togg]
[togg title=”Your Pharmacist – A Key Partner on Your Healthcare Team”]
Understanding Side-Effects: Managing diabetes means taking your medications as directed because missing doses can give your diabetes room to develop uncontrolled. Your pharmacist can provide you with a wealth of information, particularly as it relates to diabetes medications and other diabetes-related supplies. You should ask your pharmacist for a complete review of all your medications, including your diabetes medication, other prescribed medication, and any other pills (herbal and over-the-counter medication) you may take.
This can help identify drug interactions, unwanted or even dangerous side effects of combining certain medications. Your pharmacist can also tell you if any medications you are taking are likely to cause problems in the short run (like hypoglycemia) or in the long run (like kidney or liver problems). They might also be able to suggest less expensive medications that work just as well as the more expensive ones you might be taking.
Link to Professional Resources: If you need support managing your diabetes ask you pharmacist for a referral. Many pharmacists have a list of experts who may be especially helpful to you, including eye specialists (ophthalmologists), foot specialists (podiatrists), diabetes educators, dietitians and specialists in weight loss and smoking cessation. Make sure you’re seeing your doctor, dietitian, dentist and any other health care providers on your diabetes team as directed. They can keep tabs on your progress, make changes to your diet and medication schedule as needed, and may be able to catch any effects of diabetes, such as eye damage, gum disease or heart disease, before it becomes more serious.
Your pharmacist can help you sort through your options and put together a plan for reaching your diabetes management goals. Pharmacists are generally up on the latest diabetes developments, from new medications to new monitors, so they can help you stay up to date.
Your pharmacist can also answer your questions: When is the best time to take your new medication? Is that medication causing the stomach upset you’ve been having? Are there less expensive pills that work as well?[/togg]
[togg title=”6 Tips for Managing Your Diabetes”]
- 1. Commit to a better diet. Cutting back on carbs is only one part of the picture. A healthy plate should have half of it devoted to non-starchy vegetables (potatoes and corn don’t count!), and the other half split between a healthy, whole grain carb (think brown rice or whole wheat bread) and a lean protein. Diabetes management is easier when you understand what not to eat.
- 2. Lose any unhealthy habits. If you smoke or drink excessively, that can increase your risk of developing heart disease or other diabetes-related health issues. Quit now for a healthier future.
- 3. Get up and move. Increased activity levels will help you keep blood sugar levels stable, lose weight, relieve stress and improve your cardiovascular health—all of which can help minimize the impact of diabetes on your body.
- 4. Monitor your condition. The latest testing technologies can give you a good picture of how your blood sugar levels rise and fall during each day—and help you see where you can make improvements.
- 5. Be aware of how other changes can affect your diabetes. An illness, or even the changes in hormone levels that come with menstruation or menopause, can change your blood sugar levels.
- 6. Watch for the warning signs of diabetes complications. If you have diabetes, you’re at greater risk for developing heart disease, problems with your sight, and nerve damage in your extremities. Be sure to visit your doctor if you develop tingling in your hands or feet, blurred vision, sores that are slow to heal, or any other health issues.
Talk to your pharmacist today to help you start managing your diabetes to improve your health and quality of life.[/togg]
- “Diabetes management: How lifestyle, daily routine affect blood sugar,” Mayo Clinic
- “Help from Your Pharmacist” Onetouch.com