[Did you know?]

According to the American Diabetes Association, 7 million Americans have undiagnosed diabetes.

Tammy Karr was already a pharmacist when she developed diabetes at age 28. But she’ll tell you that her diabetes has made her a better pharmacist. Retail pharmacy allows her to connect with people particularly her diabetic patients and influence their lives in a positive way.

Q. How does having diabetes help you provide better service to patients who are diabetic?

A.When you live with the condition, you realize that it is something you have to deal with every day. When you have a weak moment, you’ve got to find encouragement and get back on track. I am able to offer encouragement to my patients and am often encouraged by them.

Q. What are the most common medication issues facing diabetics?

A.Medication compliance, multiple medications, cost of medication and fear of injections. Diabetic patients often have other disease states that may be related to their diabetes, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol or kidney problems. There are many drugs for diabetics that are now generic or on our $4 price list, so work with your doctor to find a treatment plan that you can follow.

Remember to take your medications when you feel great and have no physical symptoms; don’t wait until problems arise. I see people who go for weeks, even months, with very high blood sugar levels because they fear painful injections. Those are no longer necessary. Now, in addition to insulin vials and syringes, there are insulin pens and pumps that make injecting more convenient and discreet and less painful.

Talk to your pharmacist about the options. Patients who have been on oral medication without success will be amazed how easy and virtually painless injections are and how much better they will feel once their condition is controlled.

Q. What advice can you offer to people who have prediabetes or risk factors for Type 2 diabetes?

A.Have your blood glucose checked at a free health screening so you can rule out any problems or find them early so you can start lifestyle modification and/or treatment. Begin an exercise program of some kind, but don’t make it so intensive that it is something you can’t stick with. Watch your diet. Low sugar, low carbs and portion control work well for most people, diabetic or not. Most of all, be proactive and have a positive attitude.