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Clarity for all at Diabetes event

Posted by Eamonn Brady on

Clarity and quality of information on Diabetes was the theme at the Information event, hosted by Whelehans Pharmacy at the Greville Arms Hotel on Thursday June 30th. With four speakers, all experts in their chosen field, giving excellent presentations on Diabetes and related issues from their own perspective, those that attended benefited greatly


Prior to speaker presentations, attendees had access to excellent support and advice from a variety of information providers manning their own information stands. In addition, glucose checks were available so that attendees could “check their numbers”, a vital part in Diabetes management or prevention. Eamonn Brady from Whelehans Pharmacy would like to give a “A big thank you to the Order of Malta volunteers who provided this service and for giving up their time….hugely appreciated.”

Diabetes Ireland, both national and local, were present with their own info stands, the former supplying a wide range of information booklets with advice and support given by Pauline Dunne, Regional Development Officer, whilst the latter had local volunteers, Stephen Purcell and Orlagh Pettigrew giving the local perspective, whilst encouraging local diabetics and interested parties to join and add value to the group.

The National Diabetic Retina Screening programme had a table outlining the various screening programmes that they provide. The main interest was Diabetic Retina Screening. Fiona Treacey, Health Promotions Officer was on hand offer support and advice relating to this.

The Lifescan stand, hosted by Liz Kelly was extremely busy. Lifescan supply metering equipment measuring glucose levels in the blood. With changes in the metering systems, Liz was able to demonstrate how the new units work and supply people with equipment they could take away including new easier to read and use equipment including new amazing new Bluetooth technology. If anyone would like more info on the new One Touch Verio Metres our any Diabetic would like a free upgrade to a new metre, call Liz at 087 902 0803.

Whelehans Nutrition, with nutritionist Aisling Murray and Whelehans resident Chiropodist James Pedley were on hand to give advice. Checkout Aislings excellent article “Fat vs Sugar” elsewhere in this paper.  James was offering “Top Tips” on footcare for diabetics along with an offer to attend a dedicated Diabetic Foot Check day on 9th July (only €15).


The event then moved on to the presentations for the evening. First up was Pauline Dunne from Diabetes Ireland. Pauline’s talk gave a general overview of the condition and associated risk factors.  She then discussed different types of Diabetes, Type 1, which usually occurs in childhood, always needing treatment with insulin, Type 2, which is progressive, evolving slowly over time, especially from age 40. In many cases, Type 2 can be treated with improved diet and increased exercise, although, medication may also be required. Pauline went on to highlight a relatively new classification called “Pre-Diabetes”; this is a state where the individuals numbers are consistently high, but not high enough for a diabetes diagnosis. Again this “alert” status can prompt the changes the individual to take the necessary action to prevent onset.

With prevalence in Ireland (currently 225,000) rising (predicted increase of 50,000 by 2030) and an under resourced Health Service, Pauline highlighted the increasingly pressing need for people to take control and become more aware of the risks Diabetes presents, offering tips and strategies on how to identify and then reduce and minimise risk.

Next up was Fiona Treacey from Retina Screen. Fiona’s presentation took attendees through exactly how Diabetes causes Diabetic Retinopathy and can affect the retina and how, if left untreated can ultimately cause blindness. It is in fact a major cause of blindness in the working population. Fiona was able to provide graphic illustrations of how Diabetic Retinopathy effects the eye.

She then informed the assembly about the National Diabetic Retina Screening programme and how people with the condition can access it.  Indeed, she gave a thorough step by step outline of exactly how the service can be accessed, from initial contact- to securing a local screening appointment. In addition, Fiona discussed exactly what a screening consultation itself entails. Retina Screening is an extremely valuable service for any diabetic.  From the information provided, those that attended now have a firm understanding of next steps etc. If you need more information, go to

Following a short break, Eamonn Brady, Pharmacist at Whelehans took the audience through a presentation on Diabetes Medicine Management. After a brief overview of various lifestyle factors and their impact on Diabetes, Eamonn gave a comprehensive overview of the various types of medication available along with a step by step guide as to how to select a medication based on particular symptoms along with the pros and cons of each. Eamonn also explained different types of insulin management. In conclusion, Eamonn summarised that in the longer term, the older oral style drugs (ie Metformin) achieved the best overall outcomes for most.

The final speaker of the evening was Anne-Marie Keogh, Senior Diabetic Dietitian at Mullingar Hospital. Given the nature of the valuable work that Anne-Marie does every day, it was appropriate therefore that her talk focused completely of food. In particular, how much of it we consume and the myths around peoples’ perception of what “a portion size” is.

Using some fantastic illustrations, with a variety of pictures showing a full plate of a particular food type (ie pasta, potatoes, rice) and beside it the same plate for each showing “the correct” portion size (obviously considerably less, her point regarding “size” was then further emphasised by “hands-on” measurement indicators (cups of sugar) that the audience could see and touch. Anne-Marie’s final advice for the audience was to become more proficient about reading and understanding food labels to help identify exactly what they are consuming. The evening concluded with a short Q&A to the panel.

If you missed the event, call into Whelehans pharmacy for information from the night. You can contact Diabetes Ireland at 1890 909 909 for detailed information on Diabetes or check .Keep an eye out in local media for more Diabetes and Sugar events with Whelehans and Diabetes Ireland in Mullingar.


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