Managing diabetes is a team work. It involves your primary healthcare provider, multiple specialist doctors, dietitian, diabetic instructors, your family, care givers etc.
Meet the Team:
Primary health care provider: This is the physician whom you will approach for all your needs. The physician concerned should do an annual physical examination, and a HbA1c testing every 3 months. He/she adjusts the medications, give you advice on your diet, and refer you to other specialists. The primary care provider is one you will approach in times of emergency.
Ophthalmologist: Have a comprehensive, dilated eye exam by an ophthalmologist when you are first diagnosed with diabetes. After that, you should get an exam every 1–2 years, depending on your sight and diabetes care. During a dilated eye exam, an eye specialist can diagnose damage in your eyes even though you may not notice any vision problems on your own. Don’t wait until you notice vision changes to see an ophthalmologist!
Seeing an ophthalmologist is especially important for women with pre-existing diabetes who become pregnant because eye disease can progress rapidly during pregnancy.
Dentist: Good oral care is a top priority for people with diabetes because they may be more susceptible to mouth and gum infections. Brush twice a day and floss. You should have dental checkups every 6 months. You can also share your problems with your dentist such as dry mouth, bleeding or sensitive gums, or persistent bad breath or bad taste in your mouth.
Podiatrist: Podiatrists are doctors with specialized training to care for and treat foot problems. A podiatrist can show you how to correctly trim your toenails and take care of your feet daily. If required, they can prescribe and select for you specialized shoes to make walking and exercising more comfortable.
Why is a podiatrist important? This is because people with diabetes often have poor blood circulation to their feet. Poor blood circulation can cause nerve damage as nerves do not receive enough blood and nutrients. It is nerves which help in feeling pain. So if there is a cut in your leg, you will not feel the pain because of nerve damage. If you have a wound, you will not be aware of it until it becomes a serious problem.
Never ignore or try to treat any foot problems on your own. This problem may end you up in one of the most dreaded complication of diabetes - “diabetic foot”. So, always consult.
Dermatologist: People with diabetes may have problems with their skin, because high blood glucose can cause dehydration; and overtly dry or moist skin can cause skin infections. Ask for a referral to a dermatologist if you have skin problems.
Dietitian: Helps you mind your meals. Many a times your primary health care provider can also act as your dietitian. You may see a dietitian when you are first diagnosed with diabetes and then for yearly visits afterward. It is important to eat foods you love, otherwise it is extremely hard to follow dietary a plan. A dietitian will also take into account your lifestyle, health, and physical activity in deciding your diet. A dietitian can also take into account your health goals such as losing weight, reducing sodium, or cutting back on sugar, etc.
Mental health specialist: Mental health is paramount while living with a chronic condition such as diabetes. Living with diabetes can be exhausting and annoying; and it can also lead to conditions such as diabetes burnout, depression, and anxiety. Discuss your problems with a mental health specialist.
Physical trainer: Focus on your fitness. Physical trainers help you make a exercise plan that fits your goals. Each one of you should have a personalized plan for exercise. This is important because the mode of exercising will be different for people with coexisting heart or lung disease.
and finally, You!
Now that you have made your team, play the game called Managing Diabetes!