Meet your Endocrinologist: Going to the "Diabetes Doctor"

Meet your Endocrinologist: Going to the "Diabetes Doctor"

You’ve had a shock. You just learned you have diabetes. Your primary care physician (PCP) wants you to track your blood sugar, start a workout program and come back for a follow-up visit. It’s a lot to take in.

As part of your primary doctor’s treatment plan, you may also be referred to a specialist - endocrinologist -  who studies diseases and hormone issues like diabetes.

Why Should I See a Specialist?

Diabetes doesn’t only harm the pancreas, which makes the insulin hormone. Complications can affect the whole body. Endocrinologists have specialty training in diabetes and its complications. There can be several reasons your primary doctor may refer you to an endocrinologist:

  • Treatments are always changing. They know about the most up-to-date treatments and technologies.
  • Diseases like diabetes are not so easy to handle. It takes a lot of care and upkeep to make sure you are as healthy as possible. An endocrinologist can help make sure your treatment is working.
  • These specialists know the ins and outs of your health problem because of their in-depth level of study.
  • Endocrinologists work with your PCP to make sure that you are in top health.
What Should I Ask My Specialist?

It’s best to be open and direct. Hormones can affect every part of your body. From feelings and emotions to weight issues and uncontrolled blood sugar levels, these doctors are familiar with every aspect of the disease.

What can you discuss:

  • Your treatment plan. Are you having any difficulty following your treatment plan? Have you noticed any changes or improvement in your condition?
  • Your eligibility for new treatments. Specialists know about new options and what is available to patients like you. Share your glucose meter readings, food diary and anything else you track to help your specialist make choices about your care.
  • Your meds. Whether you are taking shots of insulin, medications by mouth, or both to control your diabetes, it’s vital that you know how to take them correctly. Your endocrinologist can help with this.
  • Your life and job. Do your daily routines allow you to diet, exercise and take your medications as prescribed? If not, talk with your doctor so you can find a solution or a different treatment can be recommended. 
  • Your feelings. Do you feel like you are handling your diabetes OK? What would make it simpler? What do you need to know from the doctor?

The more you tell your specialist, the better he or she can help you handle your disease. Your endocrinologist is there to help you and make sure you’re living your best life. If you don’t feel happy with your doctor, remember you have every right to find a new one. We can help you with Provider Finder®

Watch this quick video to learn how you can make the most of your medical visit.

Sources: Diabetes and Glucose Metabolism,   Endocrine Society, 2021; About Diabetes,   American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, 2021.

Originally published 2/1/2017; Revised 2019, 2021