How to best manage chronic diseases

Managing chronic diseases

Chronic diseases, broadly defined as persistent health conditions, are a pressing health concern for many Canadians.

Nearly half (44%) of Canadians over the age of 20 have at least one chronic disease, with cancer, heart disease and stroke being the three most common conditions. Chronic diseases directly impact an individual’s quality of life and can have a detrimental effect on their overall health.

Chronic Disease Day was recently marked and now is an important opportunity to raise awareness around chronic diseases and their impact on the daily lives of Canadians. It’s challenging to live with a chronic disease, and as a Kelowna pharmacist, I am here to help you manage your chronic conditions. Many Canadians can self-manage their symptoms and maintain independence with support from their health care team.

There are many risk factors that can contribute to the onset of a chronic disease, and while some of these factors cannot be controlled, like age, sex and genetic make-up, we can decrease our chances of developing a chronic disease by implementing some lifestyle changes.i

Your local pharmacist is here to support chronic disease management, including:

• Personalized care plan – While many chronic conditions can be managed with medication, there are also non-pharmacological interventions that can be used to help improve symptoms of chronic conditions. Some of these interventions can include changing your diet and exercise habits. Pharmacists are knowledgeable members of your health care team who can work with you to identify additional approaches alongside medication and can help you develop a personalized care plan based on your unique situation.

• Medication reviews – Medication is a common treatment for chronic diseases. It is important to always remember to use any medication correctly as irregular use can lead to the worsening of chronic disease symptoms. Your local pharmacist is a great resource if you are finding any difficulty in maintaining a regular medication routine. Pharmacists can conduct medication reviews to assess the correct frequency and dosages for your medications and work with you to address any challenges in maintaining appropriate use. Your pharmacist can also provide tips and tools, such as blister packs and reminder apps, which can make it easier to stay on schedule with your medication.

• Diabetes management – One in three Canadians has diabetes or prediabetes, a staggering rate that continues to rise. It is easy for individuals with diabetes to feel overwhelmed, since the diagnosis often means making significant lifestyle changes, including diet adjustments, and learning how to monitor and administer insulin. As new diabetes medications continue to come to market, it can be difficult to know which ones are necessary and beneficial in your situation. As part of your health care team, pharmacists are qualified resources to answer questions, provide practical recommendations and guide you through treatment options to find what works best for you. If you have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, visit https://www.shoppersdrugmart.ca/en/store-locator to find your nearest pharmacy and call to discuss your diabetes with a pharmacist.

While chronic diseases can’t be cured, they can be managed through a range of treatment options. Visit your local pharmacist to learn how they can help you manage your chronic condition.

Nathan Klaassen is a pharmacist and owner of a Shoppers Drug Mart in Kelowna.

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