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When Should You See a Diabetes Specialist?

How Should I Manage My Diabetes?

Many people who have diabetes also have an experienced primary care (or family practice) doctor or nurse practitioner who can help them manage their diabetes. For example, people with uncomplicated type 2 diabetes may never need to see a specialist because they can easily manage it with their primary care doctor’s help. Other people, however, might choose to see a specialist.

10 Reasons to See a Diabetes Specialist or Care Team

Here are 10 reasons why you might want to see an endocrinologist or diabetes care team:

1) Your doctor recommends you have an evaluation with a specialist.

After you have been diagnosed with diabetes, your doctor may recommend you see a specialist to confirm the diagnosis and make sure you know your options for managing the disease.

2) Your primary care physician has not treated many diabetes patients.

If your doctor has not treated many patients with diabetes or you are unsure about their treatment, you can choose to see a specialist.

3) You are having problems communicating with your doctor.

If you feel your doctor is not listening to you or understanding your symptoms, you could see a specialist who will focus primarily on your diabetes.

4) You cannot find the right educational material to help you.

Treatment for diabetes starts with learning to manage your diabetes. If you can’t find the right information to help you manage your diabetes, you might want to see a diabetes care team to receive diabetes education.

5) You are having complications or difficulty managing your diabetes.

You should definitely see a specialist if you have developed complications. Diabetes typically causes problems with the eyes, kidney, and nerves. In addition, it can cause deformity and open sores on the feet.

Diabetes complications only get worse with time, and can cause you to miss out on quality of life. In addition, you should see a specialist if you are having frequent low blood sugars (hypoglycemia) or have ever had severe low blood sugar or diabetic ketoacidosis.

6) Conventional treatment does not work.

Your primary care doctor may be doing the best they can, but the standard treatment options don’t always work for everyone. Endocrinologists and diabetes care teams use a wide range of treatments to help you with difficult-to-control diabetes.

7) You want to know about the latest research or treatment options.

Endocrinologists and specialty centers, like the Utah Diabetes & Endocrinology Center, are the key places that research takes place. A specialist will be aware of the latest research or treatment options.

8) You want to participate in research.

If you are interested in contributing to diabetes research, you may want to contact a specialist to learn more about ongoing research studies.

9) You take three or more injections a day or use an insulin pump.

The more complex your diabetes treatments become, the harder they are to manage. Seeing a specialist will ensure you are receiving the best recommendations for managing your treatment.

10) You need a care team including diabetes nurse educators, nutritionists, and possibly other specialists.

Just receiving a diagnosis and learning about diabetes often is not enough to help you manage your disease. Seeing a specialist will connect you with an entire diabetes care team whose members—nurse practitioner, dietician, pharmacist, educator, and exercise physiologist—bring unique areas of expertise to help individualize your care according to your specific needs.

While primary care doctors provide good treatment for people with diabetes, if managing your condition feels complicated and unmanageable, you might want to see a specialist. Endocrinologists and diabetes care teams can provide you with their expertise, tools, and resources specific to your individual symptoms and condition. Exploring all your options will help you determine the best management plan and achieve the highest quality of life.

What Is a Diabetes Specialist?

A diabetes specialist is called an endocrinologist. Endocrinologists specialize in the glands of the endocrine (hormone) system. The pancreas is the gland involved in diabetes. The pancreas produces insulin, and problems with insulin are what managing your diabetes is about.

Endocrinologists often work as a team with other diabetes specialists—nurse practitioners, dieticians, pharmacists, educators, and exercise physiologists—who help address every aspect of diabetes, which can be a very complicated problem to manage.

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