Sponsored by:

Shoppers Drug Mart logo   Pharmaprix

TORONTO -- Learning that you have diabetes can be extremely overwhelming.

Whether it’s Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, a patient often has to undergo swift lifestyle changes to treat the chronic illness and its subsequent symptoms.

Thankfully, your pharmacist is available to help you every step of the way.

“It requires a lot of lifestyle changes and engagement from the patient, and your pharmacy can help you with that journey,” said John Papastergiou, a pharmacist at Shoppers Drug Mart in Toronto. “Patients get tossed a lot of information, but our pharmacists are very well-versed at managing that information.”

From learning how to measure your blood-glucose levels to administering your own insulin, your local pharmacist can teach you useful techniques, introduce you to new technology and more.

“Many of our pharmacies now offer things like A1C testing, which is a measure of how well your diabetes is being managed over a period of time,” Papastergiou said. “Patients have become accustomed to coming to us to really champion their health cycle and trying to get them to meet their targets.”

When it comes to maintaining a normal, healthy lifestyle for people with diabetes, education is key.

“There are a lot of devices and a lot of education (needed) on how to use these devices safely and effectively. We want to minimize the pain, but maximize the value,” said Zubin Austin, academic director at Centre for Practice Excellence at the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy in Toronto.

From blood sugar monitors to the wide variety of insulin pumps, learning what methods work for you can require some practice.

“For example, if you don’t rotate the injection sites for your insulin over time, scar tissue can start to form,” Austin said. “A pharmacist can work with a patient to manage those seemingly small things, but they’re really essential if you’re going to get the best benefit from your medications.”

Papastergiou wants patients with diabetes to know that the diagnosis is not the end of the road.

“A lot of patients with diabetes become accustomed to the disease and they feel like they don’t have any options. I think we should be proactive as opposed to reactive,” Papastergiou said.

“We know that if you’re proactive (and) you escalate therapies more quickly… they do much better down the line. […] The pharmacist is very key in taking that proactive approach.”

If you’re someone living with diabetes, don’t be afraid to visit your local pharmacist and see if there’s anything more that can be done to manage your symptoms.