More people filing diabetes medication prescriptions, pharmacists say

November is National Diabetes Awareness month and experts are shining a light on an increase in diabetic prescriptions and complications since the pandemic began.

According to Shoppers Drug Mart, they have seen a 17 per cent increase in new patients filling out diabetes prescriptions when comparing 2019 to 2021.

Experts said complications could be due to delays in accessing diabetes care and services as well, as inactivity and a change in dietary patterns.

The pharmacy owner at the Shoppers Drug Mart at Waterloo Town Square said they have been busier than ever with diabetic customers.

“We have also seen a higher amount of complications like diabetic ketoacidosis, hypoglycemia, foot ulcers,” said pharmacist Navneet Randhawa.

Cristina Fernandes, a dietitian in Waterloo Region and a diabetes educator said stress can drastically impact blood sugar levels and added that COVID-19 has lead to higher stress levels in many.

“Usually the first two things to go are going to be the way we are eating healthfully and moving our body,” said Fernandes.

Fernandes said it isn’t just about the food you eat.

“Being present and mindful. Mindful of your stress levels especially right now,” Fernandes said.

Kitchener resident Laura Lemoine has been dealing with diabetes since she was 12 years old.

Lemoine said she has appointments with her medical team every few months but they’ve all been virtual since the pandemic. She said it isn’t the same as going there in-person.

“Not being able to sit in the same room, viewing the same charts that they’re looking at and having that person-to-person contact and support has been hard,” said Lemoine.

Lemoine said her medication has changed. She switched to the insulin pump in the summer of 2020. She said it changed her life while helping safe her life.

“I kind of joke around and say I am a bionic woman because this is my robotic pancreas,” said Lemoine. "It's life threatening essentially if it's left uncontrolled for long periods of time.”