Assemble Your Health Care Team

Diabetes can be overwhelming. Your doctor has probably thrown all kinds of information at you that you are having a hard time understanding. It isn’t surprising, even the average health practitioner (family doctor, internist) isn’t an expert in diabetes and might have already left your condition undiagnosed for a number of years.

It’s important then, to locate health professionals who understand diabetes. Your team should include:

Primary Care Physician. The doctor you see for your general health care needs. S/he needs to be kept in the loop on your diabetes treatment.

Endocrinologist. A specialist who understands the intricacies of diabetes. You can ask your primary care physician to refer you an endocrinologist s/he has worked with in the past, ask your insurance providers, ask a friend, or you can do some research and find one on your own.

Nutritionist or Dietitian. A professional specializing in nutrition and diet that helps you develop eating solutions that fit your lifestyle and meet dietary goals. This includes helping you to develop or alter your meal plan, lose weight, or follow dietary restrictions (such as cutting dietary sodium, carbohydrates or fat.) Being a person with diabetes doesn’t mean that you have to give up all the foods that you love, but it does require that you keep track of them, because what and how much you eat has a direct impact on blood glucose levels.

Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE). A multi-disciplined group of health care professionals dedicated to advancing the practice of diabetes self-management. They are nurses, doctors, nutritionists who all specialize in diabetes and have intimate experience with many of the ups and downs of diabetes and its management. Your CDE can be a tremendous resource to you by counseling you on diabetes self-care, including following a diet, taking your medicines, doing blood tests, or managing sick days or stress. Medicare and Medi-Cal cover visits to a CDE. Check with your insurance provider to determine if they also cover this valuable service. To locate a CDE in your area click here

Ophthalmologist. An eye doctor (physician) who specializes in the treatment of eye disorders. It is very important for you to have regular eye exams because diabetes is the leading cause of adult blindness. Your ophthalmologist will help detect and treat diabetic eye diseases such as retinopathy. Mr. Diabetes® was able to save his vision through laser surgery conducted by his ophthalmologist.

Podiatrist. A specialist who deals with foot problems, including calluses, sores, or ulcers. S/he can help you prevent foot injuries by keeping your feet healthy. You should see your podiatrist at least once a year.

Peer Support. Locate another person with diabetes or a support group for people with diabetes to help you through some of the highs and lows of coping with the disease. Ask your doctor, diabetes educator, local health department, or there are a number of online chat rooms. You can also get answers to questions from our staff most of whom are people with diabetes. Diabetes Support Groups by State