Working with Your Diabetes Health Care Team

mother and daughter talking to doctor

A team-based approach is the best way to prevent CVD and manage your diabetes. Managing diabetes requires a multi-disciplinary approach with medical professionals who have expertise in specific fields. Your health care team can help you develop a treatment plan to manage your condition and prevent or minimize related complications.

You are the most important member of your care team. And your team depends on you to tell them how you feel. You may work with several health care professionals. These may include a family doctor, endocrinologist, registered dietician, certified diabetes educator and others.

It’s important to have a team to provide you the support you need. Be sure to write down questions and concerns to bring to your office visits.

It’s important to have a team to provide you the support you need. And it's important that you do you:

  • Research and provide your family’s history of diabetes and related risks. 
  • Adhere  to the health care team’s treatment plan, including making lifestyle changes and taking medications and monitoring your critical health numbers.
  • Be honest about how well you’re adhering to the treatment plan.
  • See your health care professionals as recommended.

Your health care team

Family doctor (general practitioner)

If you have diabetes, you should see your family doctor more than once a year. Your doctor's staff may include nurse practitioners and physician assistants. Supported by staff, your doctor will:

  • Le proporcionará información valiosa sobre la diabetes y su tratamiento.
  • Focus on your diabetes problems and your overall health
  • Discuss making lifestyle changes to lessen the effects of diabetes and prevent complications.
  • Refer you to other professionals with specialized knowledge that can help treat diabetes and its effects.

You may want to ask your doctor:

  • ¿Cuál es mi nivel de azúcar en sangre y cuál debería ser mi objetivo?
  • ¿Cuál es mi presión arterial y cuál debería ser mi objetivo?
  • ¿Cuál es mi nivel de colesterol en sangre y cuál debería ser mi objetivo?
  • ¿Tengo sobrepeso u obesidad? ¿Cuánto peso debería perder?
  • ¿Cuáles son mis factores de riesgo de enfermedades cardiovasculares, como las cardiopatías o los derrames cerebrales? ¿Cuáles son los signos de alarma?
  • ¿Qué tipos de alimentos debería comer? ¿Qué debo evitar?
  • ¿Cuáles son los mejores tipos de actividad física para mí? ¿Qué nivel de actividad debo tener?
  • What medications should I take to help manage my diabetes? 

Educadores sobre diabetes

These health care professionals care for and education people with diabetes. Diabetes educators provide diabetes self-management education and support (DSMES), which helps patients with diabetes navigate decisions and activities to support their treatment plan. They can be nurses, dietitians, pharmacists, doctors, exercise physiologists, podiatrists and social workers, among others. Many have met additional care criteria.

Diabetes educators provide self-management education and support, which helps patients with diabetes navigate decisions and activities to support their treatment plan. The training has improved health outcomes in some people with diabetes. Often, if the patient’s status has changed, the primary care or family practitioner should consider referring the patient for an additional round of DSMES education.

Diabetes educators who provide patients with comprehensive care may:

  • Counsel them on how to incorporate healthy eating and regular physical activity into their lives.
  • Help them understand how their medications work.
  • Teach them how to monitor their blood glucose to avoid the risk of complications.
  • Help them solve problems related to diabetes, including making emotional adjustments.
  • Create a customized self-management plan based on needs, age, school or work schedule, daily activities, family demands, eating habits and health problems.

You may ask your diabetes educator:

  • ¿Qué significan los resultados de la prueba de glucemia y cuándo debo llamar a mi médico?
  • What physical activity  is right for me?
  • ¿Qué necesito saber sobre alimentación saludable y planificación de comidas?
  • ¿Cómo debo organizarme cuando esté enfermo?
  • ¿Qué debo hacer si empiezo a sentirme mal en el trabajo?
  • ¿Cómo interactúan mis medicamentos para la diabetes con otros medicamentos (de venta libre o con receta)?
  • ¿Qué debo hacer si se me olvida alguna de sus indicaciones?

Busque un educador para la diabetes cerca de usted (el vínculo se abre en una nueva ventana).

Registered Dietitians

Registered dietitians can help you understand dietary dos and don'ts — a must for managing diabetes. Being consistent about what, when and how much you eat is crucial. And without the help of a nutritional expert, it can be frustrating and confusing. Registered dietitians undergo rigorous academic training and extensive practical experience. Plus, they keep their food and nutrition knowledge up to date by completing continuing professional education programs.

When meeting with your dietitian, you may ask:

  • ¿Cómo afectan los alimentos a la glucemia?
  • ¿Puedo comer alimentos con azúcar?
  • ¿Cómo puedo comer y mantener mi glucemia en un nivel saludable?
  • ¿Por qué debo comer aproximadamente la misma cantidad y a las mismas horas cada día?
  • ¿Qué cantidad de cada tipo de comida debo comer cada día?
  • ¿Qué debo comer cuando me sienta enfermo?
  • What foods can I eat a lot?
  • ¿Puedo beber alcohol?

Obtenga más información sobre lo que hacen los dietistas y encuentre uno cerca de usted (el vínculo se abre en una nueva ventana).

Farmacéuticos

Your pharmacist can be a valuable resource for education and information about the medications you take for diabetes and other conditions. Pharmacists are trained in the science and clinical use of prescription and over-the-counter medications.

Consider these helpful tips for building a good relationship with your pharmacist:

  • Aunque tenga varios médicos, adquiera todos los medicamentos con receta en la misma farmacia. De esta manera, todos sus registros de medicamentos estarán en un único lugar y su farmacéutico podrá avisarle sobre cualquier posible interacción entre los fármacos que le prescriben distintos médicos.
  • Check with your pharmacist before taking over-the-counter drugs and herbal supplements because they can interact with your prescription medications and cause side effects.
  • Lea la etiqueta. Si no está seguro de si la medicación es la prescrita por su médico o si la dosis parece incorrecta, consulte a su farmacéutico.
  • To prevent any adverse reactions, your doctor and pharmacist should know if you’re allergic to medications foods or anything else.

To get the most from your medication, ask your pharmacist:

  • When is the best time to take this medication? Should I take it before or after I eat?
  • ¿Cómo interactuará este fármaco con mi medicación actual?
  • ¿Hay algún alimento que deba evitar?
  • ¿Cuáles son los efectos secundarios?
  • What is the best way to store the medication?
  • ¿Qué debo hacer si olvido una toma?
  • Is there a generic version of the medication?

Endocrinólogos (médicos de las hormonas)

Endocrinologists treat people with endocrine gland disorders, such as diabetes, and thyroid diseases and hormonal disorders. In many cases, an endocrinologist may become the primary doctor to manage your diabetes.

Podólogos (médicos de los pies)

A podiatrist is certified and trained to prevent, diagnose and treat conditions associated with the foot and ankle. The American Diabetes Association recommends that all people with diabetes receive an annual foot exam to examine. Over time, up to 50% of people with diabetes develop neuropathy—nerve damage in their feet and lower legs. This loss of feeling may prevent patients from feeling heat, cold or pain; they can even get cut or otherwise injured on their feet and legs and not realize it. Untreated cuts can lead to infections, ulcerations, and in severe cases, amputation.

Your doctor may send you to a podiatrist to recognize and manage feet and leg issues early. Your visits may be more frequent if you have other foot-risk conditions.

El podólogo se encargará de lo siguiente:

  • Check your pulse and the circulation in your feet.
  • Look for cuts, bruises, or infections.
  • Check the sensation in your feet.
  • Brindarle información sobre:
    • Los riesgos que corre.
    • Cómo tratar sus pies.
    • La importancia del control diario de los pies
    • Cómo cuidarse los pies y las uñas
    • El calzado adecuado

Oftalmólogos/optometristas (médicos de la vista)

Ophthalmologists and optometrists specialize in treating the eyes, which can be affected by diabetes. "Retinopathy" is a general term used for all disorders of the retina caused by diabetes, and it's common in people with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.

If you’re diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, you’re strongly advised to have a comprehensive eye exam right away. After that, yearly exams are recommended unless retinopathy is progressing.

Cardiólogos (médicos del corazón)

Cardiologists are doctors who are specially certified to treat problems of the cardiovascular system, which includes the heart and arteries. Cardiologists also treat related conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, chest pain, heart failure, heart attacks, stroke, congenital heart defects and arrhythmia. Because you may be at higher risk for cardiovascular disease, your primary care provider may refer you to see a cardiologist. Cardiologists may recommend a variety of tests to diagnose a patient's condition.

Nephrologists

Nephrologists are doctors who specializes in disorders of the kidneys and diseases that affect them, such as high blood pressure and diabetes. If your primary care doctor doesn’t feel that your kidneys are functioning properly, they may send you to a nephrologist to diagnose and treat the problem.

Diabetes can damage your kidneys over time if it’s not properly managed. In fact, diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure in the U.S. People with diabetes should have annual kidney screenings. One test checks how much albumin (protein) is in your urine. Too much of it in your urine is a sign of kidney damage. A blood test can also show how well your kidneys are working. 

El papel de familiares y amigos

In addition to your health care team, your family and friends can be vital to managing your diabetes, helping with your emotional well-being, and supporting you in an emergency.

With diabetes, you often have important choices and items to remember about your health care. Having a friend or family member around could help you. Choose a member of your family to come with you to health care visits and help you manage your diabetes.

Your health care team is bound by law to keep your medical information confidential. But your family members may wish to speak with them and find support to deal with their feelings. If you’re not opposed to this, you can provide your health care team with a list of people with whom they have your permission to discuss your medical condition.

Additional resources 


Una mujer posa con vestido rojo

¿Vive con diabetes de tipo 2?

Reciba consejos mensuales sobre diabetes basados en la ciencia y salud cardíaca en su bandeja de entrada. Know Diabetes by Heart aumenta la concienciación de que vivir con diabetes de tipo 2 aumenta el riesgo de padecer cardiopatías y accidentes cerebrovasculares, y de que las personas deberían hablar con su médico en su próxima cita sobre las formas de reducir el riesgo.