Diabetes: Your Health Care Team
People with diabetes work with an extensive health care team, which may include a primary doctor, dietitian, diabetes educator, eye doctor, foot doctor, dentist and possibly an exercise trainer. But remember, you are the most important member of the team. Your health care team is available to help you manage your diabetes and maintain your good health.
Your Health Care Team
According to the American Diabetes Association, your health care team should
You: You are the most important member of your health care team. Only you
know how you feel. Your health care team will depend on you to talk to them
honestly and supply information about your body. Monitoring your blood glucose
is an important part of effective therapy. Doing this will allow the team to
evaluate whether the current treatment is effective to attaining good control of
The frequency of home glucose monitoring depends on the individual. Some
patients on insulin and pregnant women may require checks done as many as three
or more times a day.
Your participation in monitoring your glucose levels will also help prevent
or reduce the episodes of
hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).
Primary doctor: Your primary care doctor is the
doctor you see for general checkups and when you get sick. This person is
usually an internist or general practice doctor who has experience treating
people with diabetes. Ideally, an endocrinologist/diabetologist should also be
seen regularly. An endocrinologist is a doctor who has special training and
experience in treating people with diabetes. Because your primary care doctor is
your main source of care, he or she will most likely head up your health care
Dietician: A registered dietitian (RD) is
trained in the field of nutrition. Because food is a key part of your diabetes
treatment, a dietitian is very important. Your dietitian helps you figure out
your food needs based on your weight, lifestyle, medication and other health
goals (such as lowering blood fat levels or blood pressure).
Nurse educator: A nurse/diabetes educator or
diabetes nurse practitioner is a registered nurse (RN) with special training and
background in caring for and teaching people with diabetes. Nurse educators
often help you learn the day-to-day aspects of diabetes self-care.
Eye Doctor: This doctor is another key member of
your health care team because diabetes can affect the blood vessels in the eyes.
The eye doctor will be either an ophthalmologist (doctor who can treat eye
problems both medically and surgically) or an optometrist (someone who is
trained to examine the eye for certain problems, such as how well the eye
focuses; optometrists are not medical doctors). You should see your eye doctor
at least once a year.
Podiatrist: This health professional is
trained to treat feet and problems of the lower legs. For anyone with diabetes,
foot care is important. Podiatrists have a Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM)
degree from a college of podiatry. They have also done a residency (hospital
training) in podiatry.
Dentist: People with diabetes are at somewhat
greater -- and earlier -- risk of
gum disease. The excess blood glucose in your mouth makes it a nice home for
bacteria, which can lead to infection. You should see your dentist every six
months. Be sure to tell your dentist that you have diabetes.
Exercise trainer: Exercise plays a major role in your diabetes care, no matter what kind of diabetes you have. The best person to plan your fitness program -- along with your doctor -- is someone trained in the scientific basis of exercise and in safe conditioning methods.