6 Essential Diabetic Topics to Discuss With Your Pharmacist
As a diagnosed diabetic, your life changes in many ways.
You have to consistently watch your diet, manage your medications, check blood sugar, pressure, and fat levels, multiple times a year. The process of including exercise and quitting old habits can be overwhelming. To top it off, it can be difficult to schedule an appointment with your GP to answer your diabetes related questions.
Fortunately, your pharmacist is well versed in health related illnesses, especially diabetes. They know about your medication, medical history, and, if you let them, your diet and exercise plan.
Here are 6 essential diabetic topics you should discuss with your pharmacist.
1. The medications you’re on
The kind and dosage of your diabetes medication depends on your symptoms, health issues, and complications. Whether you’re on several different kinds or limited to one, discussing your medication with your pharmacist can open doors for you.
If you feel your medication is causing harm to your health, alerting your pharmacist immediately is recommended.
If you believe your medication isn’t beneficial, or is causing side effects, your pharmacist may suggest altering the current dosage of your medication. Additionally, they may suggest a different medication altogether.
You don’t need to suffer because of diabetes medication. Ask your pharmacist for help.
2. Your diet plan and overall well-being
As a diabetic, it’s recommended to exercise daily, quit smoking, stop drinking, and follow a healthy diet plan for maximum results.
Do things that will help you feel and look healthier:
Don’t mix alcohol and your medications; it can lead to fatal health implications.
Additionally, stop smoking; it can lead to various cancers and weaken your immune system, causing you to become sicker frequently.
Exercise for at least 30 minutes a day; you’ll lose weight, boost immune system, boost your physical endurance, and feel immensely happier (thanks to endorphins).
Tie it altogether with an enriching diet, and your diabetes will become that more manageable.
If you’re not sure how to get started, your pharmacist can suggest activities suited specifically for your health requirements.
3. Your health numbers
Your BMI, blood pressure, and HbA1C numbers are incredibly important in determining proper treatment for your diabetes.
Your BMI is your body mass index. The numbers recognise whether you are underweight, normal weight, overweight, or morbidly obese, based on your current height and weight. If you are overweight or morbidly obese, it makes living with diabetes difficult.
Your blood pressure measures the pressure in arteries between heartbeats. It can be measured with a machine or by a healthcare professional. It allows you to know if your blood pressure is normal, prehypertension, high blood pressure (stage 1 or 2), or hypertensive crisis (the most extreme). Measure your blood pressure at least once a year. Don't forget that your pharmacist is available at any time to measure this for you.
Your HbA1C numbers are more accurate than using a device to measure your sugar levels at the moment. It monitors what your blood sugar levels have been over the last few months, so you can measure the activity of your levels more accurately.
If you haven’t had your BMI, blood pressure, or HbA1C tests done within the last few months, it’s recommended you check in with your pharmacist. They are trained to provide the test and/or more information related to it.
4. Your routine check-ins
Having routine check-ins are important to lead a healthy life as a diabetic. It’s recommended to have the following checkups routinely:
The important part of the eye that allows us to see is in the back of the eye. If that part of your eye becomes damaged, it can lead to blindness. This is referred to as retinopathy.
Your eyes are an easy place for a GP to check for burst blood vessels. If you have burst blood vessels in your eyes, it could mean you have them elsewhere in your body. It can also mean retinopathy is developing.
To prevent health complications, check your eyes annually.
Your GP should be checking your feet and legs (without socks and shoes) for any numbness, calluses, nail problems, corns, and poor circulation. The feet are a common location for neuropathy to develop: nerve damage that could lead to amputation.
To prevent growing numbness or risk of amputation, check your feet annually.
Blood tests measure the amount of good (HDL) and bad (LDL) fats in your body. Since diabetics are more likely to develop cardiovascular diseases such as heart disease and stroke, have your blood tested every year to see whether your blood fat levels are elevated. To lower these levels, ask your pharmacist what they recommend.
A great way to check your kidneys functionality is through blood and urine tests. If there are any problems with your kidneys, these tests will find it. The sooner the better, because kidney disease frequents people with diabetes and/or high blood pressure.
For this reasoning, have your urine checked annually.
Whether you’ve just been diagnosed, or you’ve been living with diabetes for years; it can take a toll on your mental health.
Many changes occur with your body, routine, diet and exercise; it can be overwhelming. It’s recommended to discuss with your pharmacist how you’ve been feeling emotionally. If you need help, they’ll give you a hand.
5. The warning signs
If you begin to develop ulcers on your body (most predominately found on your feet) it could be a sign of diabetes. When you're diabetic, you tend to heal from cuts and ulcers less easily than a person without diabetes. If ulcers develop and take awhile to heal, see your healthcare professional about your concerns.
If you have hypoglycaemia, you may be unaware of it when it starts. This could lead to accidents or harm to your health, especially while driving. If you think you may be a hypo, you need to inform your GP immediately. It could be a sign of other illnesses, such as diabetes.
If you have depression you may not feel up to exercising or eating correctly. This is not your fault. But these actions could lead to weight gain, improper diet, and possibly diabetes — especially if you have a history of diabetics in your family. Check in with your pharmacist to do HbA1c and blood tests to check your diabetes is in control.
6. Knowledge Gaps
Do not think the questions you have about diabetes are small, silly, or irrelevant. Your pharmacist is happy to answer any questions you have to help you lead a healthy life. Here are a few gaps to consider:
Can I eat as many sugar-free foods as I want?
Short answer: no.
Sugar-free does not necessarily mean calorie-free or even carbohydrate-free. In order to “make up” the difference of sugar-free foods, food companies up the dosage of complex chemicals that are unhealthy and unnatural.
But just because you’re diabetic, doesn’t mean you have to live a sugar-free life. You have to manage your sugar intake to keep your blood sugar levels at a moderate rate. But monitoring your carb and calorie intake is just as important as watching your sugar intake.
What’s the deal with carbs?
Carbohydrates are an important factor you must consider in your diet as a diabetic. Carbs turn into sugar when processed by the body. So if you’re eating food with a high intake of carbs (even if it proclaims to be ‘sugar-free’) it will still contribute to your sugar levels.
Also keep as many refined carbs out of your diet as you can: white sugar, white rice, white pasta, etc. These carbs have been stripped of any nutrients (what makes them white) and add no nutritional value to your health.
Do fruits have good sugar for me?
They do, but only in specified dosages.
Although the sugar in fruits are different from the sugar you find in processed foods, as a diabetic you have to be weary. Fruit sugar still counts towards your overall sugar content. For example, grapes and bananas have a high amount of sugar; having many of them may upset your sugar levels.
Discuss your diet with your pharmacist.
What are the signs of a hyper and hypo?
Hypo stands for hypoglycaemia, meaning low blood glucose levels. Symptoms can happen very quickly.
- Going pale
- Feeling shaky
- Blurred vision
- Lack of concentration
Hyper stands for hyperglycaemia, meaning blood glucose levels are high. They may become high if you miss a dose of medications, eaten high levels of carbs or sugars, are stressed out or currently sick.
- Very thirsty
- Tiredness and lethargic
- Urinating frequently, especially at night
If you worry you may be hypo or hyper, consult your GP for further testing.
If you need testing, adjusted medications, or just want to have an open discussion about living with diabetes, open up to your pharmacist.
They’re educated, knowledgable, and happy to help you make this adjustment as painlessly as possible.