What Types of Doctors Treat Diabetes?

Diabetes is a chronic condition in which the body is unable to properly regulate blood glucose (sugar) levels. In diabetes, the body either does not produce enough insulin (type 1) or insulin is not being used properly (type 2).

An endocrinologist, along with many other healthcare professionals can ensure your blood sugar levels are regulated and maintained for a healthy and sustainable life.

Read on to learn about the various types of healthcare professionals that treat diabetes.



An endocrinologist is a board-certified physician who specializes in diseases caused or affected by hormonal disruptions. The pancreas is responsible for insulin secretion and any issues or conditions arising from insulin resistance or pancreatic insufficiency, like diabetes, is typically treated by an endocrinologist.

These specialists can help make a diagnosis of diabetes as well as develop and implement the most promising and effective treatment plan for long-term diabetes regulation.

Primary Care Provider

Oftentimes, the first medical professional a person will see when they begin experiencing new or concerning symptoms is their primary care or general practitioner. A primary care provider (PCP) specializes in internal medicine and manages a wide variety of acute and chronic illnesses. In rural areas, where access to medical and specialty care may be sparse, a PCP will often take care of all of your medical needs, from diagnosis to treatment.

In other situations, a primary care provider may choose to refer you to appropriate specialists for more specialized care. In addition to referrals to specialty care, PCPs can also coordinate care among different specialists, ensuring everyone is on the same page concerning treatment goals and options.

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Ophthalmologist or Optometrist

Diabetes is a systemic (body-wide) illness, which means it can lead to a wide array of complications, affecting numerous organs, including the eyes.

People with diabetes are at an increased risk for certain eye diseases, such as:

  • Glaucoma
  • Retinopathy
  • Macular edema
  • Cataracts

Increased risk of developing the above conditions can be serious and, if left untreated, lead to vision loss. This is why it is important to see an ophthalmologist or optometrist on a regular basis to monitor and treat any eye complications that may arise from diabetes.


In addition to affecting the eyes, diabetes also commonly affects the feet. People with diabetes are more susceptible to developing:

  • Foot ulcers (open sores on the feet)
  • Neuropathy (nerve damage)
  • Skin changes
  • Decreased circulation
  • Amputation (removal of a body part)

A podiatrist is a medical professional who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases from the ankles down to the tips of the toes. Podiatrists can order appropriate blood work and imaging studies to evaluate symptoms and develop a diagnosis. Treatment options can include orthotics (custom-made shoe inserts), wound care for foot ulcers, and much more.


Since diabetes is a condition in which sugar metabolism is not functioning efficiently and optimally, it is extremely important to be mindful of dietary habits, meal portions, and nutritional content of foods consumed. However, especially when newly diagnosed, navigating a diabetes-friendly diet can seem intimidating.

That’s where working with a nutritionist can be beneficial. A nutritionist can help you identify what components of your diet are good or bad for maintaining stable blood glucose levels, teach you how to properly read food labels and evaluate the nutritional content of foods, and create meal plans to help maintain a healthy weight and stable sugar levels.

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Oftentimes diabetes management requires the use of several oral or injectable medications. While a pharmacist can't prescribe medications, they can still play an important role in diabetes treatment. Pharmacists are available to answer any questions regarding diabetic medications, potential interactions with other medications, potential side effects, and so on.

Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist

A certified diabetes care and education specialist (CDCES), also referred to as a certified diabetes educator, is a healthcare provider who specialize in all things diabetes related. In conjunction with a treating physician or healthcare provider, a CDCES can help customize individualized care plans for people with diabetes.

They can help set individual treatment, lifestyle, and dietary goals, along with a plan to achieve each. They can help teach you how to properly store, administer, and dispose of insulin, blood glucose meters, insulin pumps, and continuous glucose monitors. A CDCES is an integral part of the diabetes management team and can make a big difference in your success in achieving their diabetic goals.

Mental Health Professional

Living with any chronic medical condition, especially one like diabetes, can be overwhelming at first. A diagnosis of diabetes requires you to evaluate and change many aspects of your life like diet, activity levels, hobbies, and more. This can increase your risk for developing psychiatric conditions like anxiety and depression.

Speaking with a mental health professional can be beneficial in helping you cope and manage living with your chronic condition.


Diabetes is a chronic, systemic (body-wide) disease that leads to high levels of sugar in the bloodstream. It can cause a wide variety of symptoms and affect several different organ systems.

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Given its complexity, treatment of diabetes is typically customized to each individual case. Treatment is most effective when it is managed by an efficient and cohesive team made up of healthcare professionals such as endocrinologists, podiatrists, certified diabetes care and education specialists, and others.

A Word From Verywell

Today there are many healthcare providers who can help manage and treat the potential manifestations and complications of diabetes effectively. If you or someone you know is exhibiting symptoms of diabetes, seek an evaluation from your primary care physician or an endocrinologist as soon as possible. With the help of your medical team, diabetes can be managed well and effectively.


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About the Author: Tung Chi