Visiting an endocrinologist
After narrowing down your search for an endocrinologist, you have finally selected the one that you think will give you the best care for your diabetes. Diabetes is one of the most common conditions endocrinologists manage. You can work with your doctor to control this disease. You should write down any questions you have as preparation for your appointment.
When to go
You should go to see an endocrinologist when you’re having problems controlling your diabetes. Your primary care physician may also recommend that you see a specialist for managing diabetes.
Signs and symptoms that your diabetes isn’t well-controlled and may benefit from the expertise of an endocrinologist include:
- tingling in your hands and feet from nerve damage
- frequent episodes of low or high blood sugar levels
- weight changes
- vision problems
- kidney problems
- frequent hospital admissions because of diabetes
What to expect
A visit to the endocrinologist usually involves:
- a complete medical history
- a head-to-toe exam
- blood and urine tests
- an explanation of your management plan
This is just a brief overview. Your appointment will start with a measurement of your height, weight, and vital signs, including blood pressure and pulse. They’ll probably check your blood sugar using a finger stick.
Your doctor will want to check your teeth to ensure you don’t have mouth infections, and they will check the skin of your hands and feet to ensure that you aren’t developing sores or skin infections. They’ll listen to your heart and lungs with a stethoscope and feel your abdomen with their hands.
Be prepared for questions about your current symptoms, family history, and eating habits. Your doctor will want to know how much you exercise you get and what your blood sugars typically run. It’s important to bring a record of your blood sugar readings.
Your doctor will also want to know what you’re currently doing for your diabetes, including any medications you’re taking, how often you check your blood sugar, and if you use insulin or not.
How to prepare
Before you see your endocrinologist, you should obtain a copy of your recent diabetes lab test results and any related medical records to discuss with your endocrinologist at the appointment. Tell your endocrinologist what other doctors you see for your diabetes, such as kidney, eye, or feet specialists.
Also, take down some notes to help you answer your doctor’s questions. You should also write down the questions that you have for the doctor about your disease. Get a notebook and prepare a list of information to give to your doctor:
- Write down all of the symptoms that you’re experiencing, even if they don't seem related to diabetes. You may have some symptom that tips your doctor off to an early complication that could be important.
- Write down your blood sugar values.
- Make a list of important changes that have occurred in your life recently. Often, stress can affect blood sugar control.
- Make a list of all your medications, including dosages and times, and list your allergies as well.
- Make a list of any pertinent family history if you’re likely to forget it when talking to your doctor. You may want to take along a family member to the appointment to help you remember what the doctor said. Often, two people are better able to absorb more of the conversation than just one.
- Write down all the questions that you have for the doctor about your diabetes and how to control it. By having a notebook of information with you, you and your doctor can be sure that you cover all of the important points of your condition.
- Make a list of your recent vaccinations, such as the one for tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis, or Tdap, and the ones for flu, pneumonia, and shingles.
- Write down the date of your last dilated eye exam and foot exam.