Diabetes is usually a lifelong condition. Often times primary care physicians refer their diabetes patients to specialists to achieve the best outcomes and improve their quality of life. Diabetes specialists include doctors, nurses, dietitians, and therapists that can help patients manage this life-long condition by making individualized plans with the patient.
Here are 8 specialists that are part of the coordination of care for someone with diabetes.
1. Primary-Care Physician
This doctor monitors your general health and helps coordinate your care by performing routine blood tests to check if the diabetes is under control and your general health status. For those with diabetes, the primary care doctor can prescribe medication and help manage your condition. They may also refer you to a specialist to help monitor your treatment.
Endocrinologists treat diseases of the endocrine glands, including diabetes. Endocrine glands produce hormones that control physical functions — in diabetes, this is insulin produced in the pancreas. Endocrinologists can help you learn to monitor your blood-glucose levels and prescribe medications to control them. Those with type 1, type 2, LADA, or gestational diabetes are often taken care of by endocrinology specialists.
3. Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN)
These are experts in nutrition that will help you understand the relationship between food and diabetes, and help formulate an eating plan that fits your specific needs. and lifestyle. Since diet is one of the hardest things to change to control your diabetes, it’s very important to get the right support from a qualified professional.
This professional can help you understand your medications and how they work, and will make sure that you are not taking other medications that can interfere with your diabetes treatment.
5. Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE)
This certified healthcare professional will teach and support you and your family as you take responsibility for your diabetes self-care plan. A CDE can coach diabetes patients and their families through their own self-care including blood sugar monitoring, insulin delivery, medication dosing, and more.
Oral health is vital for those with diabetes. According to the American Diabetes Association, people with diabetes are at higher risk for gingivitis, gum disease, and periodontitis (severe gum infection with bone destruction). Elevated sugar levels in your saliva caused by diabetes puts you at greater risk for developing infections and other dental problems. Be sure to attend regular checkups with the dentist to maintain good oral health.
Restricted blood flow and nerve damage can affect the feet in particular if you have diabetes. A podiatrist is a doctor that specializes in problems in the lower legs and feet and will help monitor and treat any complications in the lower extremities that can be caused by poorly managed diabetes.
Some people with diabetes experience complications with their eyes over time. These might include cataracts, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy and diabetic macular edema. The doctor that specializes in eye care is called an ophthalmologist and will help you maintain a healthy vision and monitor the eye for any possible complications.
Diabetes is a far-reaching and lifelong disease that typically requires touch points with various clinical specialists. But don't feel overwhelmed — these specialists are there to help you and empower you to self-manage your diabetes and improve quality of life.