Straight Basics Facts about Diabetes
Many types of people visit the pharmacy every day. Unfortunately, a growing number of them are people with diabetes, whether they know it or not. Pharmacists are in a unique situation, being able to help people with diabetes because they come in contact with them so often. I’ve found that one of the best ways to help people with any kind of problem is to first help them understand what the problem is before outlining numerous instructions on how to fix it. I believe in providing an honest and straightforward description without getting too wordy or detailed, as all the necessary information can be obtained later. The first step is getting over the initial and overwhelming hump of being confronted with a problem in the first place. So here’s a brief introduction to the basics of diabetes and what being diabetic really means.
First, understand that being diagnosed with diabetes does not mean you did something wrong. EVERYONE who lives long enough will become diabetic, as age is one of the primary predisposing factors. Two other factors speed up the time, and they are genetics and weight. Diabetes is essentially the inability of your body to handle carbohydrates efficiently. Your body cannot function without energy, and the conversion of carbohydrates to glucose is the primary way your body makes energy, with glucose being the ultimate fuel. Diabetes is a problem with using the glucose, as a healthy body requires a specific and narrow concentration of glucose in the blood to stay healthy. A normal, non-diabetic body can make the needed adjustments to compensate for an under or over intake of carbohydrates. As you get older, this ability to adjust will decline. With genetics and/or weight working against you, the decline will happen sooner. Too little glucose in the blood can become fatal very quickly. Too much glucose usually causes problems much more gradually.
High blood glucose is the most obvious diagnostic factor for diabetes and it is what we base the management of the disease on. With an above normal blood glucose level, your body will suffer from numerous complications that will ultimately destroy your quality of life and end it sooner than later. The good news for any one diagnosed with diabetes is that by managing blood glucose levels properly, the risk of complications is reduced to the same risk that a non-diabetic has the closer the blood glucose levels are kept to “normal” on average. This means that YOU can do something about the disease when diagnosed with diabetes, unlike a lot of other conditions.
There’s a lot to learn about diabetes, and many ways to address it, but hopefully this brief introduction can help you better understand what it is really all about. If you have been recently diagnosed with diabetes, know that you are not alone and have a lot of options at your disposal. As a health professional interacting with diabetic patients every day, I’d like to help by providing you with what I have experienced and learned, and sharing my word as a pharmacist.