If you are living with type 1 or type 2 diabetes, you are already aware of the many potential health complications that we face. Blood sugar issues can cause a crazy number of health conditions—from poor circulation and kidney disease to sleep issues and sexual dysfunction.
The good news is with the right treatment and a healthy lifestyle, we can often delay or even eliminate some of these risks. In order to do so, it is imperative that we stay on top of our health and make sure we are acting responsibly in our diabetes care. Routinely seeing the right doctors—if you have the access and the means—is one of the best ways to stay on top of your health.
Here are five doctors you should consider seeing annually. Your overall health and diabetes will be better for it!
Primary Care Physician
While this doctor won’t be the one you see the most, this is the doctor that should be the central hub of your diabetes care team. Having a primary care physician in your corner will help ensure that you are seeing the right specialists and getting the right care. They will also be the one to see when you get sick, which we know can be a little more challenging for people with diabetes.
Other doctors may also want to defer to your primary care physician when it comes to treatments that don’t exclusively address diabetes, such as statins.
I see my endocrinologist every 3 months for a check-in and a blood workup to see how well I am managing my diabetes. I use my appointment as a chance to discuss what’s working, what’s not, and what I would like to do differently.
A good “endo” is ready to dive into the details of your daily life and help you optimize your blood sugars. Are you having consistent issues with dawn phenomenon or overnight blood sugar lows? Struggling with snacks or exercise? Your endocrinologist is your expert source for help. And a trustworthy endocrinologist just becomes more important as your condition progresses and you begin to deal with long-term complications.
Some patients prefer to see a diabetes educator more frequently than their endocrinologist. That’s fine, as long as you’re getting the attention you need from at least one real expert in diabetes.
Then again, many members of the Diabetes Daily community have been managing their own diabetes for years and don’t really want a doctor’s advice anymore. They’ll only see their endo for prescription refills.
Over time, diabetes can lead to nerve damage which can cause one to lose feeling in their limbs (neuropathy). These foot issues, which may seem minor and annoying at first, can become incredibly serious. Numbness in the feet leaves patients unaware of sores and cuts that heal at a slower pace. If left untreated, these little problems can become infected. In extreme cases, this can lead to amputation.
If you’re at the stage of your diabetes where you begin to notice foot issues, it’s a great idea to see a podiatrist regularly. They’ll help you can detect issues early on and treat them accordingly.
Surprise! Gum disease and other oral health problems are under-discussed complications of diabetes. High blood sugar causes our blood vessels to thicken, which restricts the supply of nutrients to the teeth and gums. Additionally, bacteria thrive on the increased amount of sugar in the body, including saliva, so they multiply more quickly in the mouth of a patient with diabetes.
Going to your dentist for a cleaning and check-up twice a year is a good idea for everyone, but even more important for those of us with diabetes. Gum disease can sneak up on you and get complicated fast. Don’t let it happen.
Whether you see an ophthalmologist or an optometrist, regular eye checks are vital for the long-term vision of people with diabetes. Over time, diabetes can damage the blood vessels in our eyes, leading to retinopathy and eventually even blindness. We are also more susceptible to other issues of the eye, such as glaucoma and cataracts.
The earliest stages of retinopathy can be detected before symptoms are obvious to the patient, and early treatment can make a difference in slowing the disease’s progression. Everyone with diabetes should have an annual comprehensive diabetes eye exam.
Finally, consider your mental health, too. It is crucial to living well with diabetes, although not everyone will feel that they need a therapist. Check out this article to learn more about adding a mental health professional to your care team.
Be smart and make yourself a priority. It can be so easy to put these appointments off. We all are busy and these appointments aren’t always cheap. But we must remember taking the time to be smart and responsible now can save us from issues down the road.
Read more about dawn phenomenon, exercise, Intensive management, neuropathy, retinopathy.