The best way to manage diabetes is with a medical support system. Also known as your “diabetes team.” These healthcare professionals work together to develop a personalized treatment plan. They also help you cope with the feelings and emotions that diabetes evokes.
The most important person on that team is you! You’re the one who makes choices about foods you eat and your exercise routine. You also choose when to test blood sugar and how you take your medicines.
Of course, your team will depend on you to let them know how you’re feeling. Along the way, you’ll work with a variety of healthcare providers who make up your diabetes team.
Here’s a closer look at what a diabetes team generally looks like. Every team may vary based on your unique needs.
Primary care provider
Your primary care provider, or family doctor, is in charge of your overall health and diabetes treatment. Your doctor may also refer you to other healthcare providers who specialize in treating diabetes
Great questions to ask your doctor include:
- What’s my blood sugar number? What’s my A1C? What should my target be?
- Am I overweight? How much weight do I need to lose? Do you have any weight loss recommendations?
- What kinds of food should I eat? Which ones do I need to avoid?
- Are there other medicines I can take to help manage diabetes?
Beyond your primary care provider, you may be referred to additional doctors. These doctors often specialize in treating certain aspects of diabetes or its complications.
- Endocrinologist – Specializes in endocrine system diseases such as diabetes.
- Podiatrist – a foot doctor – Offers treatment for lower-leg and foot issues, which are more common in people who have diabetes.
- Dentist – Cares for your teeth and gums, and you may be sent to one who specializes in the oral health needs of people with diabetes.
- Ophthalmologist – Specializes in treating the eyes.
Diabetes educators help you learn how to self-manage diabetes. This includes information on how to eat better and stay active, how medicines work, or how to better monitor blood sugar.
Educators may also work to help you create your own self-management plan — one that’s tailored to your schedule, family demands, age, health issues, and daily activities.
A few questions you may want to ask a diabetes educator include:
- How should I interpret my blood sugar results?
- When do I need to call my doctor about my blood sugar?
- What should I know about eating healthy for diabetes?
- How will my diabetes medicines affect other types of drugs I take?
- What kind of physical activity will help me reach my goals?
A dietitian is an expert in food and nutrition. Having a good dietitian on your diabetes team helps you learn more about maintaining the right diet to help manage diabetes. Most people see a registered dietitian right after diagnosis, followed by regular reviews.
Good questions to ask when meeting with your dietitian include:
- How does what I eat affect my blood sugar?
- Can I eat foods that have sugar in them?
- What is the best way to eat while keeping my blood sugar at a healthy level?
- How much of every type of food should I eat daily?
- If I feel sick, what should I eat?
Your pharmacist is also a valuable resource — providing information about the medications you take to manage diabetes and other conditions.
A few tips for building a great relationship with a pharmacist include:
- Fill prescriptions at the same pharmacy, even if you have multiple doctors. With your medicine records in one place, your pharmacist can let you know about any possible drug interactions.
- Make sure your pharmacist and your doctor know if you have any allergies to foods, medicines, or other things.
- Before taking supplements or over-the-counter medicines, talk to your pharmacist.
Mental health professional
Mental health professionals, such as a psychologist or psychiatrist, can help you learn to live with the challenges of daily diabetes management. They can also help you with other emotional issues.
Ask your physician to refer you to a mental health professional who understands diabetes. Remember, supporting your mental health proves just as important as other aspects of managing diabetes.