More people are filling prescriptions for diabetes drugs, pharmacists say


November is National Diabetes Awareness Month and experts are highlighting an increase in prescriptions and diabetic complications since the start of the pandemic.

According to Shoppers Drug Mart, they saw a 17% increase in the number of new patients filling prescriptions for diabetes compared to 2019 to 2021.

Experts said complications could also be due to delays in accessing diabetes care and services, inactivity and a change in eating habits.

The owner of the Shoppers Drug Mart in Waterloo Town Square said he’s been busier than ever with customers with diabetes.

“We also saw a higher number of complications such as diabetic ketoacidosis, hypoglycemia, foot ulcers,” said pharmacist Navneet Randhawa.

Cristina Fernandes, a Waterloo region dietitian and diabetes educator, said stress can have a huge impact on blood sugar levels and added that COVID-19 has led to higher stress levels in many cases.

“Usually the first two things to do will be how we eat healthily and move our bodies,” Fernandes said.

Fernandes said it’s not just about the food you eat.

“Be present and attentive. Take your stress level into account, especially right now, ”Fernandes said.

Laura Lemoine, a resident of Kitchener, has had diabetes since the age of 12.

Lemoine said she had appointments with her medical team every few months, but they had all been virtual since the pandemic. She said it’s not the same as going in person.

“Not being able to sit in the same room, see the same graphics that they’re looking at and have that person-to-person contact and support has been difficult,” Lemoine said.

Lemoine said his medication had changed. She switched to an insulin pump in the summer of 2020. She said it changed her life while helping her safety.

“I kind of joke and say I’m a bionic woman because it’s my robotic pancreas,” Lemoine said. “It is essentially a danger to life if left unchecked for long periods of time.”

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