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Diabetes

What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a condition in which the amount of glucose in the blood is too high because the body is unable to use it properly. Normally, the amount of glucose is carefully controlled by hormone insulin, produced in the pancreas. Insulin enables sugar in the blood to enter sugar in the blood cells where it can be converted into energy. When there is a shortage of insulin or if the available insulin does not function correctly, glucose will accumulate and diabetes will develop. Poorly controlled diabetes over many years can lead to damage to the eyes, kidneys and the heart.
What is the difference between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes?

In Type 1 diabetes you have an autoimmune condition where your cells kill off your insulin producing cells and your body no longer makes insulin. In Type 2 diabetes, your body does make insulin, but it is not used correctly by the body, or it is not enough to meet your body’s demands. There are many risk factors for Type 2 diabetes, including weight, fitness, age, genetics, diet and others.
What are the symptoms of diabetes?

It is important to note that while some people will exhibit the symptoms of diabetes – such as thirst, fatigue, and so on – some people will not exhibit any symptoms of diabetes. The only way to know for certain is to be tested.
How many people in Ireland have diabetes?

There are approximately 180,000 people diagnosed with diabetes in Ireland, and another 30,000 cases of undiagnosed diabetes suspected. According to figures released by the VHI in 2011, a further 146,000 could have pre-diabetes and are at risk of developing the condition. Experts believe that by 2020, 233,000 people in Ireland will have diabetes. It is estimated that 14,000-16,000 people have Type 1, and 160,000-180,000 people have Type 2.
What are the complicating illnesses associated with diabetes?

If a person’s diabetes is not controlled, that person runs the risk of developing, eye, foot, kidney problems, heart conditions and / or nerve damage. Diabetes affects blood circulation, so it can take longer for people to heal too.
Role of the Pharmacist

Pharmacists are the best placed healthcare professional to provide frontline support across a range of issues for diabetes patients. The pharmacist is a vital member of the diabetes team in educating and advising patients with diabetes, in addition to providing consistent and equitable lifestyle advice to diabetes patients.
Community pharmacists are an important resource to:

  • promote diabetes prevention
  • increase early identification of diabetes
  • improve knowledge and skills of people with diabetes in dealing with their
    treatment
  • reduce the severity and incidence of immediate and late diabetes
    complications
  • improve the well-being of people with diabetes
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