November is Diabetes Awareness Month and a time to take action to End Diabetes.

Every action makes a difference this Diabetes Awareness Month

Every year during the month of November, people around the world who are affected by diabetes, and their supporters, come together as a community to not only honour those living with the disease, but also to shine a light on its impact through the voices of those affected by it, health-care providers and supporters. For the close to 11.5 million Canadians affected by diabetes and those who care for them, Diabetes Awareness month is a time to take action and tell the stories to waken the world.

There are three main types of diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes is a disease in which the pancreas does not produce any insulin. Insulin is an important hormone that helps your body to control the level of glucose (sugar) in your blood. Roughly 10% of people living with diabetes have type 1, insulin-dependent diabetes. Type 1 diabetes generally develops in childhood or adolescence but can also develop in adulthood. People with type 1 need to inject insulin or use an insulin pump to ensure their bodies have the right amount of insulin.

Type 2 diabetes is a disease in which your body cannot make enough insulin (a hormone that helps control the amount of glucose or sugar in your blood) or does not properly use the insulin it makes. Type 2 diabetes is caused by several different risk factors and affects 90% of diabetes cases in Canada.

People over the age of 40 with a parent or sibling with diabetes are at a higher risk of having type 2. Your ethnic background is also a factor.

Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that occurs during the second or third trimester of pregnancy. Between 3 - 20% of pregnant women develop gestational diabetes, depending on their risk factors. In most cases women with gestational diabetes did not have diabetes before their pregnancy; however, after giving birth, the diabetes usually goes away.

2021 is a unique and special year as it’s also the 100th anniversary of the revolutionary Canadian discovery of insulin. Since the life-changing discovery, there have been huge strides and key advances in mapping and understanding diabetes and its complications. Insulin is a game-changer for those living with diabetes. However, it is not a cure. A century later, Canada has one of the highest rates of diabetes among developed countries with someone being diagnosed every three minutes, and Canadians at age 20 facing a 50% chance of developing diabetes in their lifetime. If left untreated or improperly managed, diabetes can lead to a variety of serious health complications. Diabetes can cause blindness, heart attacks, strokes, kidney failure and limb amputation.

We can’t wait another 100 years to end diabetes.

At such a pivotal time in diabetes history, we need to honour the legacy of Banting, Best, Collip and Macleod—the discoverers of insulin. This Diabetes Awareness month, Diabetes Canada is urging Canadians to take action to End Diabetes. Ending diabetes represents a whole collection of individual actions moving toward the goal of ending diabetes.

Every action counts! To help with some inspiration, here are some ideas:

  1. Help dispel myths sometimes associated with diabetes.
  2. Donate towards diabetes research.
  3. Wear blue on November 14th for World Diabetes Day!
  4. Help raise awareness about diabetes signs and symptoms.
  5. If you’re living with diabetes, attend an education session or free webinar to enhance learning about self-management, or
  6. Visit your local pharmacist to ensure you have all the resources available to you.

All of these collective actions and more can help get us closer to ending diabetes.

To ensure our actions are making a difference, Shoppers Drug Mart and Diabetes Canada partnered earlier this year to launch diabetes health programs within the PC Health app. The programs provide critical information on diabetes and its management, as well as physical activity, nutrition and diet support, footcare, and sick day management. Designed to empower Canadians with convenient access to health resources and support, the PC Health app is available nationally. It is the front door to the healthcare system in a digitally connected world. Users can download the PC Health app to get free, real-time access to virtual chats with nurses and dietitians and earn PC Optimum™ rewards through custom digital health programs.

Pharmacists and pharmacy members play a vital role in diabetes care.

Whether you are newly diagnosed, or have been managing diabetes for many years, your pharmacist is available to help you. Diabetes Canada’s Clinical Practice Guidelines recommend that diabetes care should be organized around the person living with diabetes and their supports. The person with diabetes should be an active participant in their own care, be involved in shared-care decision making and self-manage to their full abilities. This self-management should be facilitated by a proactive, interprofessional team with training in diabetes and the ability to provide ongoing self-management education and support. This team could include pharmacists, a primary care provider, diabetes educator, nurse, dietitian, and other specialists.

Shoppers Drug Mart pharmacists are always happy to answer questions and help provide solutions for diabetes care at the more than 1300 locations across Canada.

The pharmacist’s role in diabetes management is more important than ever before given the number of people living with diabetes and the number of options available for treatment. Their role can include education, coaching (in person or over the telephone), treatment adjustment, monitoring and care coordination, and reminders of checks for diabetes complications. Pharmacists can help a person living with diabetes self-manage their disease. They do this by knowing their patients’ goals and being ready with recommendations to help them reach those targets.

In addition, Pharmacists can help recommend the right meter to people living with diabetes and provide meter training in-store or even over the phone to ensure accurate and appropriate blood glucose readings. Shoppers Drug Mart pharmacists (in many locations) are now able to provide A1C testing right in store. The A1C test—also known as the hemoglobin A1C or HbA1c test—is a simple blood test that measures average blood sugar levels over the past three months. It's one of the most commonly used tests to diagnose prediabetes and diabetes and is also the main test to help manage diabetes.

With the ever-growing armory of diabetes medications, pharmacists play a huge role in helping select medications that maximize efficacy and minimize side effects. Your pharmacist can play an active role in monitoring or adjusting medications. They can then communicate that information to your doctor to ensure the medications that you're taking, whether it's oral medication or insulin, is appropriate. They can also provide annual diabetes medication reviews to ensure all other medications are up to date, are appropriate, working well for you and recommend over-the-counter medications that are compatible with what you are already taking.

Sometimes coping with the stresses of everyday life can be challenging enough, particularly in our current pandemic environment. There are no vacations from managing diabetes; it is 24/7. When pharmacists collaborate with a person living with diabetes and their entire health-care team, studies show that it can improve A1C, quality of life, and reduce adverse drug reactions. Pharmacists can help manage cholesterol and blood pressure, which will reduce the risk of complications from diabetes.

As we prepare for the winter months and flu season, people with diabetes (type 1, type 2, or gestational), even when well-managed, are at higher risk of developing serious flu complications. They can visit their local Shoppers Drug Mart prior to and during flu season to receive their influenza vaccination. The Shoppers Drug Mart pharmacist can also help with other vaccines that may be important for those living with diabetes e.g. pneumococcal vaccine.

When those living with diabetes are sick, their blood sugar levels may fluctuate and become unpredictable. The need to drink plenty of sugar-free fluids to avoid dehydration increase, and blood sugar levels spike. If a person living with diabetes has a cold or flu and want to use a cold remedy or cough syrup, they can seek counsel from their pharmacist to help them make a good choice. Pharmacists can also help adjust their sick day plan while they are ill: they can instruct on which medications that the patient need to stop temporarily if they are eating less than normal and/or if they are dehydrated.

Pharmacists also help people at risk of developing diabetes, through education and screening. Diabetes clinics are often held at Shoppers Drug Mart locations, and include the opportunity for people to be screened for diabetes using the CANRISK calculator. If a participant is determined to be at high risk for developing diabetes, the pharmacist can fax a note to the person’s family doctor about the CANRISK result and encourage them to make an appointment to see their doctor within the next two weeks.

Shoppers Drug Mart carries a wide range of diabetes care products, including

  • Blood glucose monitoring systems – blood glucose meters, test strips and lancets
  • Foot care products – foot care accessories, foot creams and heal balms
  • Skin care products – moisturizers and itch relief creams
  • Glucose tablets and treatments
  • Dental health products – toothpaste, toothbrushes and mouthwash

Let’s End Diabetes Now

Help achieve 100,000 collective actions during the month of November and let Diabetes Canada know what your action is by visiting the website at

Disclaimer: All content (with the exception of any reference to Shoppers Drug Mart), is owned by Diabetes Canada.