Your diabetes healthcare team is a vital part of managing diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is a complex disease and requires the help of many people: family, friends and several healthcare professionals knowledgeable about different aspects of diabetes.
As an adult with type 1 diabetes you and your family are the primary members of that team because you will be performing most of the management care. But you will need the help of several healthcare professionals to guide you along with way.
Doctor(s)Most families have a primary care doctor or pediatrician that they go to for routine visits. Though some primary care physicians and pediatricians may feel comfortable treating your diabetes, it may be necessary to also see an endocrinologist on a regular basis. Endocrinologists are specialists in diabetes. In addition, an eye doctor, preferably an ophthalmologist, should be consulted within five years after your diagnosis with annual visits thereafter.
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Diabetes EducatorA certified diabetes educator (CDE) has specialized training to help you learn about diabetes and the care and maintenance of your condition. These professionals are invaluable for their knowledge of the best practices in glucose monitoring, lifestyle adjustments and insulin therapy. You can ask your doctor for a referral to a CDE or visit The American Association of Diabetes Educators online. They offer a search option from their website to find a CDE near you.
A dietitian can help develop healthy meal planning options that are customized to your personal needs. You should consult a dietitian at least once a year. This annual visit is especially important immediately after you are diagnosed so that you can establish a meal plan that provides for your nutritional needs while also helping you to balance your glucose intake. They can also provide helpful suggestions about managing portion sizes and tips for portion control when eating out.
PharmacistYour pharmacist is often an underappreciated member of your team. He or she can help you choose diabetes supplies and answer any questions about medications that may cause a rise in your glucose levels. Many pharmacies have at least one pharmacist that is also a certified diabetes educator.
Mental Health ProfessionalThere may be times when you or your family needs a little extra help coping or solving particular problems that may arise. A mental health professional familiar with diabetes can provide guidance and help bring perspective to your situation.
Your Health Care Team. American Diabetes Association. Accessed September 22, 2008. http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/treatment-and-care/who-is-on-your-healthcare-team/your-health-care-team.html