Several types of doctors are involved in treating diabetes. A primary care doctor can order diabetes testing, monitor your condition, and refer you to other healthcare professionals as needed.

If you’re at risk for diabetes or you begin experiencing symptoms associated with the disease, a good first step is to talk with your primary care doctor about testing. While you may work with your primary care doctor to manage your diabetes, you may also see other doctors or specialists as part of a larger medical team.

Read on to learn about the different doctors and specialists who can assist in various aspects of diabetes diagnosis and care.

Primary care physician (PCP)

Your PCP can monitor you for diabetes at your regular checkups. They may also perform blood tests to check for the disease, depending on your symptoms or risk factors.

If you have diabetes, your doctor may prescribe medication to help manage your condition. They will continue to monitor your blood sugar and may order tests such as:

  • fasting blood sugar, which is measured after an overnight fast
  • A1C, which measures your average blood sugar over the previous 3 months
  • glucose tolerance, which measures the change in your blood sugar before and after you drink a sugary liquid
  • random blood sugar, which requires no preparation and measures your blood sugar at the time of the test

Since diabetes can affect multiple aspects of your health, your doctor will also occasionally order tests to check health markers such as your kidney function and cholesterol levels.

If you receive a diagnosis of type 1 diabetes or if you’re experiencing diabetes complications, your PCP may also refer you to a specialist to help monitor certain aspects of your treatment.


Diabetes is a disease of the pancreas, a gland in your endocrine system. An endocrinologist is a specialist who diagnoses, treats, and manages pancreatic diseases.

If you have type 1 diabetes, you’ll likely work with an endocrinologist to manage your treatment plan. Endocrinologists prescribe insulin therapy, monitor its effectiveness, and work with you to make adjustments as necessary.

An endocrinologist can help you with insulin delivery technology such as insulin pumps and blood glucose monitoring devices such as continuous glucose monitors. They can also provide you with prescriptions for vital tools such as test strips, pen needles, and glucagon.

If you have type 2 diabetes, you might work with an endocrinologist if your blood glucose levels are difficult to manage.

Eye doctor

Many people with diabetes experience complications with their eyes over time. These might include:

It’s recommended that you have regular visits with an eye doctor, such as an optometrist or ophthalmologist, to check for these potentially serious conditions.

According to the American Diabetes Association, people with type 1 diabetes should have a comprehensive dilated eye exam each year beginning 5 years after diagnosis. People with type 2 diabetes should have this exam yearly beginning at diagnosis.


Diabetes can increase your risk for kidney disease (nephropathy). Your PCP or endocrinologist can order a yearly test to assess your kidney function, but they may refer you to a nephrologist if needed.

A nephrologist is a doctor who specializes in treating kidney disease. They can also administer dialysis, a treatment that can become necessary if your kidneys aren’t functioning properly.

If you have type 1 diabetes, you should have an albumin-to-creatinine ratio test (which checks for protein in your urine) and an estimated glomerular filtration rate test (which checks your kidney function) each year starting 5 years after diagnosis. If you have type 2 diabetes, you should have these tests yearly beginning at diagnosis.


Diabetes can lead to vascular complications such as blocked capillaries, which are your smallest blood vessels. Capillaries are where your blood and tissues exchange materials such as oxygen and nutrients. If your capillaries become blocked because of diabetes, this can lead to nerve damage and reduced tissue healing.

Regular visits to a podiatrist can help you:

A diabetic foot exam assesses four areas:

  • vascular
  • dermatological
  • neurological
  • musculoskeletal

If you have type 1 diabetes, you should visit a podiatrist to have an annual foot exam beginning 5 years after diagnosis. If you have type 2 diabetes, you should have this foot exam yearly beginning at diagnosis.

Physical trainer or exercise physiologist

An active lifestyle may help with blood sugar management. Regular exercise is also linked to reductions in obesity and to the maintenance of healthy blood vessels. Getting advice from a professional can help you get the most out of your exercise routine and motivate you to stick with it.


Nutrition plays a vital role in managing diabetes. If you have trouble finding the right foods to help manage your blood sugar, a registered dietitian can help you create an eating plan that fits your specific needs.


Delayed stomach emptying, or gastroparesis, is a common manifestation of diabetes. Blood sugar levels can affect the speed at which your stomach empties, and high blood sugar slows this process.

Gastroparesis can cause unwanted symptoms such as nausea and bloating and lead to nutritional deficiencies. While dietitians often help manage this condition, a gastroenterologist is the doctor who provides the gastroparesis diagnosis and treatment plan.

No matter which healthcare professional you see first, it’s important to be prepared and to maximize the time you have during your appointment.

Call ahead to see whether you need to do anything to prepare, such as fasting for a blood test. Make a list of all your symptoms and any medications you’re taking. Write down any questions you have before your appointment.

Here are a few sample questions to get you started:

  • What tests will I need to check for diabetes?
  • How will you know what type of diabetes I have?
  • What type of medication will I have to take?
  • How much does treatment cost?
  • What can I do to manage my diabetes?

There is no cure for diabetes. Managing the disease is a lifelong process. In addition to working with your doctors to coordinate treatment, joining a support group may help you better cope with the condition.

Several national organizations offer online communities, as well as information about various groups and programs available in cities across the country. Here are a few web resources you may want to check out:

Your doctors may also be able to provide information on support groups and organizations in your area.