Diabetes Doctors and Other Health Care Providers
Diabetes and the Podiatrist
A podiatrist is a foot doctor. Annual checkups with a podiatrist are critical when you have diabetes. People with diabetes often suffer from nerve damage -- called diabetic neuropathy -- in their feet. With nerve damage, blisters, cuts, and corns can become infected without your even knowing it. This can lead to serious infections that can spread from your feet to your lower limbs. People with diabetes have a significantly higher rate of lower limb amputation due to diabetic neuropathy. Your podiatrist can teach you special foot care techniques to help keep your feet healthy.
Diabetes and Your Ophthalmologist
Damage to blood vessels in the eyes is relatively common with diabetes. That's why you should see an optometrist or ophthalmologist at least once a year. Poorly controlled diabetes can lead to a condition called diabetic retinopathy. Diabetic retinopathy permanently damages your eyes and ultimately leads to blindness.
An optometrist can do initial screenings for eye problems and fit you for glasses if needed. An ophthalmologist is an MD specializing in eye diseases. He or she can diagnose and treat diabetic retinopathy.
The Diabetes Educator
When you're first diagnosed with diabetes, you may be referred to a diabetes educator by your regular doctor. Diabetes educators typically work in hospitals or clinics. Many hospitals have a diabetes education program with local classes designed to teach people newly diagnosed with diabetes about their disease. A diabetes educator is your expert resource for finding out the daily details of living with diabetes. That includes:
- Meal planning
- The timing of meals and medications
- Using your glucose monitor
- Glucose testing
- Diet and exercise
You can call your local hospital, look online for classes, or ask your endocrinologist to refer you to a local diabetes educator.
Diabetes and Registered Dieticians
A registered dietician can help you fine-tune your diabetes diet. That can make it easier to lose weight and keep it off -- a key component of diabetes control. Or if you're frequently having symptoms of hyperglycemia -- high blood sugar -- or hypoglycemia -- low blood sugar -- the dietician can help you get better control. Dieticians are well-versed in using "food as medicine." That means using your meal plan as much as possible to help manage your diabetes. When you do, you don't have to overuse insulin or other diabetes medications.
A dietician can evaluate how many calories you need each day given your age, gender, and activity level. Meal planning includes using accurate serving sizes and choosing healthy foods. You may be able to find a dietician teaching diabetes nutrition classes through your local hospital. Or you can ask your endocrinologist to refer you to one for a few appointments.
Diabetes and Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Americans are increasingly turning to acupuncture, yoga, tai chi, and other alternative therapies to manage lifelong chronic conditions like diabetes. For diabetes, acupuncture may help relieve the pain associated with nerve damage (neuropathy) in the feet. Relaxation techniques like biofeedback, guided imagery, yoga, tai chi, and meditation can relieve stress and promote a sense of well-being.
A few supplements, such as ginseng, chromium, and magnesium, have been studied with diabetes. But further research is needed to understand how they interact with insulin and glucose. Be sure to tell your diabetes doctors about any supplements you're taking, including vitamin and mineral supplements. Supplements can boost or block the effects of diabetes medications you may be taking.