Diabetes Doctors and Other Health Care Providers
Diabetes and the Endocrinologist
The endocrinologist is the quarterback of your diabetes health care team. Sometimes called "diabetes doctors," endocrinologists are diabetes specialists trained to diagnose and treat medical conditions of the endocrine system. That includes the insulin-producing pancreas.
Your endocrinologist oversees your overall diabetes care. He or she will prescribe the right types and doses of diabetes medications, including insulin if you need it. He or she will also monitor your health for diabetes complications.
The endocrinologist schedules your diabetes checkups and blood glucose testing, depending on your needs, and refers you to other diabetes specialists as needed.
Diabetes and the Podiatrist
A podiatrist is a foot doctor. Annual checkups with a podiatrist are critical when you have diabetes. People with diabetes often suffer from nerve damage -- called diabetic neuropathy -- in their feet. With nerve damage, blisters, cuts, and corns can become infected without your even knowing it. This can lead to serious infections that can spread from your feet to your lower limbs. People with diabetes have a significantly higher rate of lower limb amputation due to diabetic neuropathy. Your podiatrist can teach you special foot care techniques to help keep your feet healthy.
Diabetes and Your Ophthalmologist
Damage to blood vessels in the eyes is relatively common with diabetes. That's why you should see an optometrist or ophthalmologist at least once a year. Poorly controlled diabetes can lead to a condition called diabetic retinopathy. Diabetic retinopathy permanently damages your eyes and ultimately leads to blindness.
An optometrist can do initial screenings for eye problems and fit you for glasses if needed. An ophthalmologist is an MD specializing in eye diseases. He or she can diagnose and treat diabetic retinopathy.
The Diabetes Educator
When you're first diagnosed with diabetes, you may be referred to a diabetes educator by your regular doctor. Diabetes educators typically work in hospitals or clinics. Many hospitals have a diabetes education program with local classes designed to teach people newly diagnosed with diabetes about their disease. A diabetes educator is your expert resource for finding out the daily details of living with diabetes. That includes:
- Meal planning
- The timing of meals and medications
- Using your glucose monitor
- Glucose testing
- Diet and exercise
You can call your local hospital, look online for classes, or ask your endocrinologist to refer you to a local diabetes educator.