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Your Pharmacist Can Be Your Health Troubleshooter

pharmacist
By Frieda Wiley, PharmD, RPhNovember 07, 2019

As a pharmacist, one of my favorite ways to help a patient is by guiding them to the best next step.

Often, they’re simply looking for a little direction on which route to take: Do I need to see a doctor about my bee sting, or can I treat it with something over the counter? Do I need to go to the ER for this broken leg or should I go to urgent care instead? This cut on my arm seems to be getting worse - can I take something over the counter for it, or should I see a doctor?

But the scenarios aren’t always so black or white. I once had a patient share her frustration that, despite exercising regularly, eating well, and religiously taking her medication, her blood sugar always seemed to run high. I encouraged her to start keeping a food diary and record everything she ate and drank.

A few weeks later, she came back and shared her food diary with me. I quickly pinpointed what I suspected could be the culprit. True, she was eating a diet with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, but many of the fruits and vegetables she was eating were high in carbohydrates—complex forms of sugars and starches found in these foods. The body breaks carbohydrates down into simple sugars, and excess sugar in the body—regardless of the source—can spike your blood sugar. It also looked like she wasn’t combining her protein, carbohydrates, and fats in a way to keep her blood sugar levels steady.

I asked her if she’d seen a diabetes educator (usually a nurse or pharmacist who is specially trained to teach people life skills on how to manage their diabetes by understanding the disease, how to use their medications properly, and adjust their lifestyle habits). She said no. With her permission, I contacted her doctor for a referral. After a few months, not only did the patient’s blood sugar improve, but her doctor was able to reduce the amount of insulin she needed to take each day.

This is just one example of how pharmacists can help you manage your health, but my point is that this patient might have just continued struggling if she hadn’t shared her problem with me.

While pharmacists are not trained to diagnose disease, we can often help you troubleshoot your problems. Give us a try. You might be surprised just how much good we can do for your health—and your pocketbook.

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