More than 30 million people have diabetes in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control, with another 84 million at risk of getting the disease. It is the seventh leading cause of death in the country.
As more people succumb to the condition, it is important that patients are able to see healthcare providers who can help them control it. Because of their expertise, pharmacists can also play an important role in helping patients with diabetes, beyond just dispensing medication. To improve outcomes, pharmacists need to be a part of healthcare teams treating patients with diabetes.
Pharmacists see patients more than just about any other healthcare professional. They are uniquely situated to offer advice and information to people who are diabetic.
Pharmacists can also help patients by assessing their risk factors for diabetes, by examining such things as family history, physical activity, and weight. Pharmacists can also work with other healthcare professionals to obtain blood pressure and cholesterol panels to determine if people are at risk for diabetes.
Pharmacists counsel patients about different diabetes medications, but they can also help educate patients about making lifestyle changes in order to control the disease. For example, monitoring blood glucose is extremely important for diabetics, especially those on insulin therapy. Pharmacists have a key role to play in helping patients activate and use their glucometers, in talking to them about test strips, and in helping them to put together a log to monitor their blood glucose.
Moreover, pharmacists can talk to diabetics about diet, exercise, and quitting smoking to help control the condition. Talking with these patients on a regular basis can also help prevent some of the adverse effects of uncontrolled diabetes.
For patients who have just recently been diagnosed with the condition, managing their treatment can be a daunting task, as it involves taking insulin, watching their diet, and often taking other medications, as well as monitoring blood sugar.
Pharmacists need to assist these patients, answering questions and providing information. The pharmacist should discuss the importance of adhering to the medication regimen with patients. This is a common problem among diabetics because of the complexity of the treatment.
Pharmacists also need to advise patients about the storage of insulin, the signs and symptoms of hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia, adverse effects of medication, drug interactions and duplicate therapy.
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