As podiatrists we see a large number of diabetics on a daily basis. Podiatrists serve as an integral part of a diabetics health care team, which includes the primary care doctor, endocrinologist (diabetes doctor) and eye doctor. Each of these specialists helps to care for different complications caused by diabetes. Let’s look at each of them individually and see how they all contribute to the overall health of a diabetic patient.
Primary Care Physician – This is the doctor that everyone goes to first when something is wrong. Whether it be a common cold, aches and pains, or just an annual checkup, they are the first line of defense for a diabetic patient. They are usually the doctor who determines if a patient is diabetic and what they can do to help treat the disease. Proper diet and exercise is the first step and they will help you get a referral to a doctor who specializes in the treatment of your diabetes, the endocrinologist.
Endocrinologist – So the truth is, to call a endocrinologist a diabetes doctor is an oversimplification of what they do. The endocrinologist studies and treats the system of glands and the hormones they create. For diabetics the endocrinologists primary focus is on the pancreas, the organ that makes insulin. They are a great doctor for diabetics who are either newly diagnosed and require more education and monitoring of insulin injections, as well as diabetics who have had trouble managing their diabetes on their own.
Eye Doctor – diabetics suffer from chronic high levels of blood sugar, which can have damaging effects on the eyes. Diabetes is actually the leading cause of blindness in adults. Diabetes can cause blurry vision, cataracts, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy. While these problems are not limited to just diabetics, high levels of blood sugar means that these problems tend to progress faster in diabetics than the rest of the population, so seeing an eye doctor is key, it could literally save your sight.
Podiatrist – Diabetes affects the circulatory system and as a result takes a heavy toll on feet. Wounds on the feet are slow to heal and can become easily infected. Diabetes is the leading cause of non-traumatic amputations in the US. Diabetic neuropathy causes a tingling and burning sensation and as it progresses causes numbness in the feet. A diabetic can receive special shoes designed to help protect the feet from injury better than regular shoes.
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