There is more to treating diabetes than keeping your blood sugar levels healthy. Most people with diabetes have a health care team to help them manage. Discover why you may need to see an endocrinologist when you have diabetes.
- People with diabetes typically work with a health care team including a primary care physician, dentist, ophthalmologist, podiatrist, a diabetes nurse educator, fitness trainer and dietitian. Another person who may be part of your health care team is an endocrinologist.
- An endocrinologist has extra specialized training to diagnose and treat illnesses that affect your endocrine system, hormones and glands. Insulin is a central hormone the body needs to function and your pancreas is part of the endocrine system. Typically an endocrinologist treats people with diabetes, metabolic disorders, growth disorders, thyroid disease and other related conditions. Often your primary care physician will refer you to an endocrinologist if a specialist is required to help assist with your diabetes self-management program.
- Most people with type 1 diabetes are advised to see an endocrinologist especially when the condition is new and they are still learning. It may be difficult for the primary care physician to prescribe an insulin regime. People with type 2 diabetes may also be referred when they develop complications or have difficulty managing their condition. An endocrinologist can help you manage your diabetes in the best way possible.
- In certain situations, a general physician might not be completely comfortable caring for diabetes or could lack the resources to educate a patient. Endocrinologists provide patients with essential information about taking care of diabetes. This helps the patient to be well-trained and motivated to participate fully in their own diabetes self-management program.
- When a patient with type 1 diabetes is on routine therapy and experiences hypoglycemic reactions and/or has high blood sugar levels, they are frequently referred to an endocrinologist. Treatments may include a basal-bolus program of injections or use of an insulin pump. It is important to work with a doctor who is experienced and familiar with these types of regimes and all the diabetes supplies.
- When a patient with type 2 diabetes is on diabetes medication yet still has elevated A1C levels they may be referred to an endocrinologist. A second or third diabetes med may be added or insulin may be required. The endocrinologist may also reassess meal planning, exercise and stress factors in the patient’s life. They may also refer the patient to a diabetes management program or dietitian.
- A new diabetes complication such as nephropathy, neuropathy or retinopathy may require a patient to see an endocrinologist to review the status of the patient’s diabetes treatment program. Research reveals aggressive therapy of such complications can slow down the progress of the disease.
- A patient can request a consultation with an endocrinologist to discuss certain concerns. Certain insurance plans may require a referral from your primary care physician so check with your plan. If a patient is hospitalized and has high blood sugar from an acute illness, an endocrinologist may be consulted. A pediatric endocrinologist may be recommended for a child with diabetes.
- Job or school schedule changes and other factors may lead to a patient losing diabetes control. It might become a challenge for the patient and his or her general physician to establish a plan to regain control.
There are many reasons to see an endocrinologist when you have diabetes. They can assist you with gaining control over diabetes for optimum health, and developing a diabetes self-management plan that works for you.