Diabetes can affect numerous bodily systems. Your diabetes healthcare team should therefore consist of a variety of doctors specializing in various fields. Knowing which physician to visit and when can help you manage diabetes and prevent complications.
The body is a delicate and intricate system. A malfunction in one body part can affect the performance of other body parts. Diabetes is no different in this regard. Managing diabetes involves managing the overall health of the body. You will therefore need a diabetes care team comprised of specialists from various fields. Your diabetes care team will assist you in developing a diabetes management plan to help you maintain good health and avoid any complications associated with diabetes.
Like any significant relationship, you’ll want to find diabetes care team members who will listen, support, and respect you. This requires a team that ensures your preferences, needs, and values inform clinical decision-making. Keep in mind that you are the most vital member of your diabetes care team. The other specialists will rely on you to communicate your requirements, priorities, and emotions. Having the appropriate diabetes care team can set you up for success in diabetes management.
Who’s Who on Your Team Offering Person-Centered Care
People living with diabetes should work with a team that includes long-term treatment techniques and maintains communication and goal-setting among all team members. “So, who should be on my team?” Glad you asked! Below is a list of healthcare professionals you could need and the roles they’ll play in managing your diabetes.
Primary Care Provider (PCP) (PCP)
This doctor is usually your general or family doctor who gives you normal medical care. You will normally see your PCP for general care, such as yearly checkups, physical exams, and lab testing, and to issue prescriptions. When you have diabetes, you’ll want to see this doctor at least once a year, or more often, if indicated.
This is a doctor who specializes in the body’s hormones. Because diabetes affects how your body generates and uses insulin (a hormone), your healthcare provider may want you to see an endocrinologist. It’s not unusual for an endocrinologist to become the primary doctor to manage your diabetes.
Diabetes Care and Education Specialist
This healthcare professional is trained to provide personalized diabetes self-management education and support (DSMES). DSMES helps persons with diabetes develop the knowledge and decision-making abilities needed for diabetic self-care. Diabetes education is considered an integral component of diabetes care. And it’s covered by Medicare and most health insurance plans when it’s offered through an accredited diabetes education program. As a member of your care team, a diabetes care and education specialist makes managing your diabetes easier. Together, you will develop a diabetes care strategy tailored to your health needs, lifestyle, and culture. Request a referral to DSMES from your doctor for individualized diabetes management assistance. Find a diabetic education program in your region.
A dietician is a nutrition expert who is trained to assist individuals in eating healthfully. Working with a nutritionist can assist you in developing good eating habits that will enhance your overall health. Also, they assist you
Reach and maintain body weight goals.
Reach blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol goals.
Delay or prevent diabetes complications.
Not all dietitians are trained to work with people with diabetes. You’ll want to make sure to find one who is trained in diabetes care.
Ophthalmologist or Optometrist
This professional, often known as an ophthalmologist, can diagnose and treat eye issues and illnesses. Diabetes may impair vision by causing damage to the blood vessels in the eyes. You should schedule an eye checkup as soon as you are diagnosed with diabetes. This will assist your eye doctor in monitoring any changes to your vision or eye health. After your initial eye exam, you should see an eye doctor annually (or more often if recommended by your eye doctor). This can aid in the early detection of eye disorders and prevent vision loss.
A physician of the eyes could be an optometrist or an ophthalmologist. Here is the distinction:
An optometrist (OD) is a doctor of optometry who provides primary vision care. This means they can diagnose and treat some eye diseases and disorders, give you an eye exam, and test for vision problems. People usually use their vision insurance to see this type of eye doctor.
An ophthalmologist (MD) is a medical doctor who specializes in eye and vision care. An ophthalmologist can diagnose and treat all eye diseases and disorders. Because they are a medical doctor, they can also prescribe medicine and perform eye surgery. People usually use their medical insurance to see this type of eye doctor.
This type of physician treats the lower legs and feet. Diabetes can damage the blood vessels and nerves in the lower extremities. This can lead to difficult-to-treat infections if you develop a cut or a blister, which can delay the healing process. You should visit a podiatrist annually for a thorough foot examination. Daily foot examinations are the best way to avoid foot complications. If you notice any sores on your feet or legs, make an appointment immediately. Consult a foot doctor immediately.
This physician is an expert in hearing and balance disorders. Inner ear blood vessels and nerves can be damaged by diabetes. When first diagnosed with diabetes, you should undergo a hearing examination. Hearing loss can develop gradually and be difficult to detect. Therefore, it is best to visit an audiologist annually to monitor your hearing. If you suspect that you have hearing loss, consult your physician for a referral.
This healthcare practitioner is knowledgeable about many medications and their safe administration. A pharmacist can fill your prescriptions and provide information on which medications (prescription and over-the-counter) can affect your blood sugar and which ones should not be taken together.
Dentists are educated to care for teeth and gums. People with diabetes may be more susceptible to gum disease. Even if you have no natural teeth or dentures, see a dentist at least once a year (or more frequently if advised). And inform them that you suffer from diabetes.