Do you suffer from type 2 diabetes? If so, your pharmacist is there to help you understand the role of your medications, to provide advice and address any questions or concerns you may have so you don’t experience undue distress about your disease.
Type 2 diabetes causes an increase in blood sugar (glycemia). The primary goal of treatment is to bring blood sugar levels back down to within a normal range.
There are several types of medication that lower blood sugar levels, and each works in a different way. They are often used together, since the combined effect of smaller doses of different medications can help lower blood sugar levels while reducing the risk of undesirable side effects.
Type 2 diabetes can also damage certain organs, notably the heart, kidneys, nerves or eyes. To reduce the risk of such damage, it is important not only to control blood sugar levels, but also to take other medications to prevent these complications.
In other words, if you need to take several medications, it is not because you are more ill, but rather to better control your blood sugar level while protecting your organs from damage that can be caused by diabetes. And just because you take an injectable form of medication doesn’t mean you are more seriously ill either.
Your pharmacist is an expert in medications and a valuable treatment counsellor. Here’s how your pharmacist can help you:
Proper use of medication
To achieve the full effect of treatment, it is crucial that medications be taken as prescribed. This means taking them according to the recommended dose, frequency, treatment duration, and any special restrictions such as whether or not they must be taken on an empty stomach. Your pharmacist will give you precise information on the treatment, so it is very important to follow his or her recommendations closely.
In the early days of treatment, injectable medications require a bit more attention. Your pharmacist is there to explain how to use them, for example by demonstrating how the injection device works.
Blood sugar monitoring
To know whether the treatment is working, you’ll need to measure your blood sugar levels. To do this you’ll need a blood glucose meter. Your pharmacist can help you choose the device that best suits your needs and explain how to use it. They will also recommend how often to take readings, depending on your treatment, occupation and/or activity level.
Your readings will allow your pharmacist or physician to ensure that the treatment is working properly and make any adjustments as required.
Medications can sometimes cause adverse side effects. In general they are minor and disappear over time. Your pharmacist will advise you of possible side effects and explain what to do if you experience any. Be sure to raise any concerns you have about such side effects with your pharmacist, who will be able to propose solutions. If necessary, they will contact your doctor if they deem it preferable to adjust your treatment. Never adjust or stop your treatment without discussing it with your pharmacist or physician!
Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia)
Low blood sugar levels can lead to serious problems. Your pharmacist will tell you everything you need to know about potential symptoms and what to do if you experience them. He or she will also give you advice on how to avoid these episodes.
Advice on special situations
If you are sick, e.g., stomach flu, or need to undergo a test on an empty stomach, you may need to adjust your treatment temporarily. Don’t hesitate to discuss the situation with your pharmacist—they will explain exactly what you should do.
You can also consult them if you’re not sure how to proceed before a medical check-up or an appointment at the hospital.
Analysis of your medication profile
In addition to closely monitoring your diabetes treatment, your pharmacist will ensure that any medications prescribed for other health issues will not interfere with those you are already taking or adversely affect your blood sugar levels. Since over-the-counter drugs and natural health products can also interfere with prescription drugs, it is essential that you ask your pharmacist’s advice before taking any.
Having your pharmacist synchronize all your prescription renewals so they fall on the same date, where possible, is one of the best ways to help you manage your treatments and help your pharmacist ensure you are taking all your medications.
Diabetes treatment: more than just medication
Medication isn’t the only thing that will help you control your type 2 diabetes. Exercise, diet, and weight are all important points to consider.
Your pharmacist can provide basic guidelines or recommend specialized resources you can turn to for advice.
Services to make your life easier
Your pharmacist understands your situation and the challenges type 2 diabetes can present. He or she is a medicine specialist who will take all the time you need to provide advice on the treatment and the disease, and also to reassure you and address any questions and concerns you may have. It is even easier to take advantage of these services when you always deal with the same team.