Women's Health Matters

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Your Diabetes Team

Partnering With Your Diabetes Team

There are a number of health care professionals who are available to help you manage your diabetes. Some of these specialists may only be available in larger centres. Often all of these specialists may be available through a Diabetes Education Centre.

Members of the health team may include:

  • Your family doctor who focuses on your overall health. Family doctors can provide a referral to a specialist when necessary.
  • A dietitian who can provide you with personalized guidelines regarding food choices, portion sizes and menu planning, taking into account your own preferences.
  • A diabetes nurse educator who can advise you about taking diabetes medication, insulin adjustment, self-monitoring of blood glucose, foot care, physical activity, shift work adjustments and more.
  • An endocrinologist or a diabetologist, who is a diabetes specialist available to you through referral from your family doctor. If you have type 1 diabetes, you should see an endocrinologist at regular intervals. Your family doctor may also refer you to an endocrinologist if you have type 2 diabetes and take insulin and/or if you are experiencing health complications related to diabetes, such as high cholesterol or high blood pressure.
  • A social worker or psychologist who can provide you and your family with support, psychotherapy or information on resources in your community that can be useful to you.
  • An ophthalmologist, who is a medical doctor specializing in conditions affecting the eyes. Ophthalmology screening should be done on an annual basis, beginning five years after the onset of type 1 diabetes and at the time of diagnosis of type 2 diabetes.
  • A chiropodist, who is trained in foot care, or a podiatrist who, in addition to specializing in foot care, can perform minor surgery on the feet. Because diabetes may affect circulation and sensation, the foot is particularly vulnerable and needs careful attention. Speak to your family doctor about a referral if nail cutting is difficult, if you have problematic corns or callouses or any structural deformities in the foot, such as bunions.
  • A pharmacist, who has a record of all the medications you take and can inform you of their side effects or interactions with other medications.

You, the person living with diabetes, are the most important member of this team.

Tips for Meeting with a Health Care Professional

  • Pack a snack in case the appointment overlaps with your snack or mealtime.
  • Always carry candy or juice to treat a potential low blood glucose reaction.
  • Bring your blood glucose meter to correlate with the meter at the diabetes education centre, or doctor's office or laboratory. If you are having a blood test taken at a laboratory, test your blood within 5 minutes of the lab test and discuss the results with your doctor at your next appointment.
  • Bring your blood glucose monitoring record and a list of your medications for possible adjustment.
  • Write your questions down beforehand. Let the health care professional know how many questions you have at the beginning of your appointment.
  • Bring a family member or friend for support and to learn more about your diabetes management needs.

Other Supports Available

Friends and family members can be an important source of support.

Your local Canadian Diabetes Association (CDA) branch or Juvenile Diabetes Foundation can provide printed information, advice on insurance, a list of diabetes support groups and much more.

Local health fairs organized by pharmaceutical companies, pharmacies or your local CDA branch can keep you up-to-date with the latest in meters, medications and new advances in diabetes management.

Diabetes education centres are specialized centres that cater to the needs of people with diabetes and their families and friends. They are located throughout the country and are usually associated with a hospital. These centres help to promote increased knowledge and confidence by teaching diabetes self-management skills. The health care professionals available at the diabetes education centre may include:

  • a dietitian who specializes in nutrition and diabetes
  • a nurse educator
  • a social worker or psychologist
  • an endocrinologist

Many people are now referred to a diabetes education centre after being diagnosed. Follow-up and educational updates are also encouraged as the need arises. These centres can provide you with support from health care professionals and an opportunity to meet and learn from other people living with diabetes. TRIDEC was established in 1972 to provide support and education to people with diabetes and their families. Read more about TRIDEC here.


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  • A publication of:
  • Women's College Hospital