Managing Diabetes with the Help of Your Pharmacist
People with a new diagnosis of diabetes often feel overwhelmed by the amount
of information they have to assimilate. They must learn how diabetes affects
them and how to effectively manage it through changes in lifestyle and often
with the help of medication. Fortunately, in Tompkins County,
people with diabetes have knowledgeable professionals to help them, including
doctors, nurses, dietitians, and pharmacists.
To understand diabetes treatment, you must first understand the two major
types of diabetes. One out of ten people with diabetes has type 1, which is
typically diagnosed before age 30, but can occur at any age. Type 1 diabetes
results from an absence of insulin, which means insulin is always required to
Nine out of ten people with diabetes have type 2, which is typically
diagnosed after age 40 but is now being seen as early as age eight. About eight
out of ten people with type 2 diabetes are overweight. Type 2
diabetes, which accounts for the worldwide diabetes epidemic, results from a
combination of insulin resistance and insulin deficiency. In contrast to
type 1 diabetes, which always requires insulin, type 2
is more complex. It may be controlled through diet and exercise, or it may require
oral medicines or insulin.
Managing diabetes is extremely important. Large-scale clinical trials have
conclusively shown that tight control of blood glucose in type 1 and type 2
diabetes helps prevent long-term complications such as blindness, kidney failure,
or the need for amputation. However, many people with type 2 diabetes wait too
long to start oral diabetes medicine when it is clear
that their diabetes is not sufficiently controlled with diet and exercise.
Similarly, many people wait too long to start insulin when oral medicines are
not doing an adequate job.
The role of your pharmacist
The role of the pharmacist has changed in recent years. We go beyond simply
ensuring that there are no “problems” with a given prescription and asking if
you have any questions. Today’s pharmacists have more information about your
medical condition and the goals of your drug therapy. Pharmacists are likely
now to play a more active, collaborative role with physicians to ensure that
the ordered medicine is appropriate for meeting your specific treatment goals
while minimizing the risk of adverse effects. This includes ensuring that you
understand the goal of your drug therapy, how your medicine works, and what to
look for in terms of intended results and possible adverse effects.
The treatment of diabetes and its related conditions (including hypertension
and high cholesterol) and potential complications (including neuropathies and
gastroparesis, a condition where the stomach is dilated and stomach contents
are retained) may require using many medicines appropriately. This is one
reason why pharmacists play an important role in diabetes education. In
addition, there are now more choices of oral diabetes medicines, including
medicines that work by reducing insulin resistance, and your pharmacist can
talk with you about the potential advantages and special characteristics of the
newer medicines. Your pharmacist can also help you learn about new devices that
can make it easier to take insulin no matter where you are.
To find out more about diabetes and our education classes for newly
diagnosed diabetics and their families, just search our Web site, with the key