Diabetes is a complex, chronic disease
that affects many body systems and requires treatment for the rest of your
life. Because diabetes affects so many parts of your body, it has the potential
to involve many medical specialists.
You have a lot to learn about
both your disease and how best to manage it. But you do not have to go
through this process alone. Health professionals can help you make good choices
about your diabetes treatment. Working with a team, you can make the lifestyle
changes that allow you greater control over the disease and how it develops
The following table provides information about the
health professionals who may be involved in your care. You need to see some of
these professionals regularly. Others you may see only occasionally or if you
Diabetes health professionals
What is their role?
When would you see them?
Educates people and helps them take control
Often coordinates treatment
After diagnosis, to learn about diabetes and
the daily treatment (for example, how to give an insulin injection)
As needed, when daily treatment needs adjusting
Primary care physician:
Other health professionals that may serve as primary
May serve as diabetes care coordinator and is
responsible for the day-to-day medical management of diabetes
Nurse practitioners or physician assistants may also serve as care
Regular visits (2 to 4 times a year)
Endocrinologist or pediatric
Specialty medical care (may coordinate care as
Sometimes regular visits, or as treatment
problems come up
Cardiologist (heart specialist)
Ophthalmologist or optometrist (eye
Podiatrist (foot doctor) or orthopedic surgeon (bone
and joint doctor)
Provide specialty care for specific
Ophthalmologists and podiatrists provide preventive eye
and foot care, which helps prevent those specific complications.
For evaluation, or when a problem develops.
Educates people and helps them set up and
follow their daily meal plan
Whenever diet and self-management need
Educates people and helps them develop an
appropriate exercise program for their fitness level
Initial visit and periodic consultations as
Mental health professionals
Helps people manage stress and cope with
emotional problems, such as
depression, that may develop
Regularly (perhaps weekly), for as long as
psychological symptoms go on
At a minimum, you need to see a doctor, a nurse educator,
and a dietitian. At health care facilities that specialize in treating
diabetes, you may have a team of all the above professionals and also a
pharmacist to help you.
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.