Diabetes is a chronic, often debilitating sometimes fatal, disease, in which the body either cannot produce insulin or cannot properly use the insulin it produces. Insulin is a hormone that controls the amount of glucose (sugar) in the blood. Diabetes leads to high blood sugar levels, which can damage organs, blood vessels, and nerves. The body needs insulin to use sugar as an energy source.
Diabetes is one of the fastest growing ailments in Canada. The number of people with diabetes has doubled over the last decade. This has resulted in costing the economy more than 13 billion dollars per year.
There are many signs and symptoms that indicate diabetes, including:
- Unusual thirst
- Frequent urination
- Weight change (gain or loss)
- Extreme fatigue or lack of energy
- Blurred vision
- Frequent or recurring infections
- Cuts and bruises that are slow to heal
- Tingling or numbness in the hands or feet
- Trouble getting or maintaining an erection
Our pharmacists understand the importance of education to prevent and manage diabetes. Our certified diabetic educator can be of immense resource to deal with various issues and problems arising due to diabetes. We are also able to refer patients to appropriate healthcare providers if needed.
The Clinical Practice Guidelines, developed by the Canadian Diabetes Association, can help people with diabetes live longer, healthier lives. Following these guidelines can help you prevent long-term complications, such as heart disease, stroke, and eye, foot, or kidney problems.
YOU ARE THE ONE IN CHARGE
Every day, your choices can fluctuate the sugar level in your body. You choose what, when, and how much to eat; whether to be physically active; when and how to take your medications and keep track of your blood glucose (sugar) levels.
Your pharmacist and diabetes educator can help you by providing you with information and teaching you about diabetes care and what to expect from your healthcare team.
CHECK AT EVERY VISIT:
- Blood Pressure: Your blood pressure levels tell you the force of blood inside your vessels. When your blood pressure is high, your heart has to work harder. If your blood pressure is on target, meal planning, physical activity, and medications can help.
- Weight: Preventing weight gain or losing weight may be part of your diabetes care plan. If you need to lose weight, a 4-7 kg weight loss can usually help you reach your blood pressure, blood glucose, and cholesterol goals.
- Smoking: If you smoke, ask your pharmacist or diabetes educator about a plan to help you quit.
CHECK AT LEAST EVERY 3-6 MONTHS
- Hb1Ac: This blood test tells you what your average blood glucose has been for the past 2-3 months.
CHECK AT LEAST ONCE A YEAR
- Cholesterol: Your cholesterol numbers tell you the amount of fat in your blood. Some fats, like HDL, help protect your heart. LDL and triglycerides are blood fats that can clog your arteries and increase your risk of a heart attack or stroke.
- Kidney function test: This will tell you how well your kidneys are working. Diabetes is a risk factor for kidney disease.
- Foot exam: High blood glucose can lead to a loss of sensation or decreased circulation in the feet. A foot exam will help identify problems and treat them as soon as possible.
- Eye exam: People with diabetes are more prone to eye problems, so annual eye exams will help identify those problems early and treat them.
Your healthcare team can help you develop a plan to keep all of these problems under control. Together, we can adjust your meal plan, physical activity, and medications to give you the best chance for a long and healthy life.
Setting & Reaching Your Goals
HITTING YOUR TARGET
Having diabetes will likely require you to change the way you eat, exercise, and take care of yourself in general. The first way to make sure you “hit your target” is to determine exactly what your “target” should be and how to reach it. This process is called goal setting and is unique for each individual. Your diabetes healthcare team will help you set your personal goals.
SETTING YOUR GOALS
Setting goals means planning how to take care of yourself. Goals help you focus. They should be simple, small, and measurable. Because this process can be overwhelming, start by deciding what you would like to take first, second, and so on with the help of your diabetes educator, pharmacist, or doctor. The final decision will be yours. Understanding what needs to be done and why will help you decide and take responsibility for the final result.
YOUR DIABETES CONTROL
Make a list of each area. These areas may include diet, exercise, weight, etc. This will be different for everyone. Set clear goals. What makes you happy? Or unhappy? Is diabetes keeping you from doing things you enjoy? Imagine what life would be if your diabetes was better controlled. Would you feel better, have more energy, or have more freedom?
DEFINE YOUR GOALS
State your goals to be easily monitored and measured to determine whether all your hard work is paying off. Write your specific definitions of each goal area on your list. Examples of diabetes-related goals might include:
- Exercising for 30 minutes at least 5 times per week
- 4-kg weight loss within the next 3 months
- Performing a daily foot check
- Reducing hemoglobin Hb1Ac to less than 7% in the next 3 months
For more information about diabetes, visit the following sites: