(Good Things Utah) – November is National Diabetes Awareness Month, and it also is when we typically kick off the holiday season with treats and celebrations which can make it extra challenging for people with diabetes. Diabetes can have devasting implications from amputation, kidney failure, blindness, and it is one of the leading causes of heart disease.

The chances are significant you or someone you know has been directly affected by diabetes Diabetes is a condition that that affects more than 1 in 10 Americans.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 122 million Americans are living with either diabetes or prediabetes. More than 180,000 Utahns have been diagnosed with diabetes.

What is diabetes and what are the different types?

  • Diabetes is a chronic disease state that affects how the body turns food into energy. Specifically, diabetes occurs when a person’s blood sugar (glucose) is too high, which can cause several health issues including kidney disease, eye problems, nerve damage or heart disease.
  • There is no cure for diabetes, but there are ways to manage the condition whether it be through a medication regimen or adopting healthy habits such as eating healthy foods and staying active.
  • There are different types of diabetes that determine how a person’s diabetes is caused and could determine course of treatment or management.
    • Type 1 diabetes: type 1 diabetes occurs when your body doesn’t produce insulin and is currently not preventable.
    • Type 2 diabetes: the most common type of diabetes, occurs when your body doesn’t use insulin well and can’t keep blood sugar at normal levels. About 90-95 percent of people with diabetes have type 2.
      • Type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed with healthy lifestyle changes, such as losing weight, being active and eating healthy food.
    • Gestational diabetes women develop the condition during pregnancy and typically goes away once the baby is born.
    • Prediabetes: this condition refers to people whose blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be considered type 2 diabetes. CDC Graphic to support
      • Fortunately, while prediabetes does put people at a higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes or other health conditions, with healthy lifestyle behaviors it can be reversed.

What is the role of a clinical pharmacist?

As a clinical pharmacist at Optum Primary Care, Megan Weber collaborates directly with physicians and patients at health appointments to ensure medications prescribed best meet the patient’s needs and health goals to create the best possible health outcomes.

This is especially important for medications for chronic conditions such as diabetes.

Another important role in helping to educate patients about their medications, financial assistance available for medications, as well as medication reconciliation to limit side effects or other interactions with one’s various medications and also vitamins, foods, exercise or lack of as well as environmental elements like stress and heat, among others.

How do you help people with diabetes?

Together with other physicians, Megan works with patients on their specific treatment plans to help keep their blood sugar under control and prevent new or worsening complications associated with having diabetes.

Optum operates three Community Centers in Utah – Sandy, West Valley City ad Layton. They offer free classes for people 55 and over – including nutrition and Health & Wellness seminars as well as monthly Diabetes Education sessions.

Megan also helps with special programs and information for the monthly Diabetes Education sessions at the Optum Community Centers.

Optum’s knowledgeable team at the Optum Community Centers offers a 4-part series on diabetes education and management. Throughout this series, you will learn about diabetes lifestyle, long-term risks with diabetes, and medications. There will be class handouts, and you can ask questions of their team.

How can people with diabetes have a healthy holiday season?

  • It’s easy to get lose sight of health plans and medication needs as the holidays rev-up it’s important to set ourselves up for success – take stock of what they need to do to best support someones health needs.
  • For diabetics this means to:
    • Keep taking medications as prescribed even if you feel okay or your blood sugar numbers are good.
    • Set additional reminders to take your medications as the business of the holiday season can make that a challenge. Put reminders on your calendar and phone or also by leaving notes on items you use daily – a refrigerator, a mirror, etc.
    • Monitor your glucose levels regularly as the season includes more meals and desserts
    • Enjoy holiday treats in moderation as they can increase blood sugar
    • Make healthier recipes and create new family meal traditions with them
    • Exercise regularly as things like the sedentariness of traveling could also impact glucose levels. Keep those regular workouts!
    • Make a commitment to yourself to make your health needs a priority. This can include writing a contract with yourself, repeating your health mantra at the start of each day, and also asking for help from loved ones.

Utilizing these things can help people maintain a consistent routine and improve medication adherence.

Visit Optum Care Community Centers now.

This story contains sponsored content.