Primary Care Physician

Why Primary Care Physicians Are Essential for Diabetes Treatment

Last Updated: May 31, 2022By

Diabetes Mellitus – is a chronic disease that plagues over 37.5 million Americans each day. It presents physical symptoms like neuropathic pain and fatigue that considerably decrease one’s quality of life. Its symptoms may develop and appear over the course of years and are mild enough to go unnoticed. However, when diagnosed, people frantically search for the best diabetes doctor near me. What they don’t know is that to manage their diabetes, they make the best team with their primary care physician. Together, the two can go a long way to make a significant impact.


Diabetes refers to a group of diseases that affect the body’s way of utilizing blood sugar (glucose). It is a chronic or long-term condition that determines how the body converts food into energy. While in its usual state, the food is broken down into glucose which is then released into the bloodstream. Then, the elevated blood sugar level in the blood stimulates the pancreas to release a hormone – insulin. Insulin helps the blood sugar to enter the body’s cells so that it can be utilized for energy.

In diabetic conditions, there’s a slight change in the normal physiological process. Whether the pancreas is unable to produce insulin, or the cells develop resistance – as seen in different types- the outcome is the same. There is excessive blood sugar in the bloodstream, known as hyperglycemia which leads to various health issues.

Despite being a chronic condition, there are several types of diabetes that are reversible in nature. These include hyperglycemic conditions during pregnancy or before the onset of DM itself, known as gestational diabetes and prediabetes respectively. Both these conditions may reverse with time, though with proper medical assistance. However, chronic diabetes is also divided into two distinct types:


It is an autoimmune disease that is cause after the body’s immune system destroys the pancreas. As a result, the insulin-producing cells are damaged and there’s no insulin production. Hence, type 1 diabetes is also known as insulin-dependent diabetes. While it may occur at any age, it primarily occurs in children and young adults and was once known as juvenile diabetes.


In type 2 diabetes, the pancreas is intact and so are the insulin-producing cells. However, in this condition, the cells lose their response to the effect of insulin. They do not take up glucose and hence the blood sugar level increase. Hence, type 2 is known as adult-onset and insulin-resistant diabetes. Type 2 diabetes accounts for approximately 95% of the diabetic population and requires both medical and lifestyle changes for management.


Diabetes is an endocrinological condition that requires immediate medical intervention. Nevertheless, may visit your primary care physician for its treatment rather than searching for the best endocrinologist near me. Together, you and your primary physician make the perfect duo for diabetes long-term management. However, it is you who’s the primary member of your diabetes care team. It’s you who will eventually make the right decisions to visit a physician, listen to advice and implement them. You’ll be the first one to monitor any unusual symptoms and schedule regular appointments with your physician for their management. Your timely decision will make a significant impact on your health and paves the way to a healthier life. It’s for this reason that out of 37.5 million diabetic people, 8.5 million still go unnoticed. A considerable percentage are not vigilant about their health and do not notice subtle symptoms.


A primary care physician is the first doctor you visit for any health condition, including diabetes. If you schedule your appointments regularly, your physician is aware of your past medical and family history. They will steer their management strategies accordingly to provide a personalized plan.

A primary care physician checks your blood sugar levels to determine the type of diabetes. They also detect prediabetes which affects more than every 1 in 3 adults in the United States. It also leads to various other health conditions such as type 2 diabetes and cardiac issues.


To identify the type of diabetes, the first step is to run several diagnostic tests, such as:

  • A1C Test: Which determines the average blood sugar levels over 2 to 3 months. If the A1C counts to 6.5 or above, it indicates the onset of diabetes.
  • Fasting blood sugar test: it determines the blood sugar after overnight fasting. A fasting blood sugar test indicates diabetes if the glucose level is above 126ml/dL.
  • Glucose intolerance test: This test involves the measurement of glucose levels before and after taking a glucose drink. The test is usually used to diagnose gestational diabetes which is confirmed if the blood sugar level is over 200 mg/dL.
  • Random blood sugar test: Unlike a fasting blood sugar test, a random test can be taken at any time. It indicates diabetes if the blood sugar level is above 200mg/dL.

Also Read: What Is A Palatal Expander?


After diagnostic tests, the primary care physician will determine the type of diabetes you’d potentially have. What follows next is a management plan that prevents the glucose level from either rising too high or too low. Your physician would suggest hyperglycemic drugs or insulin shots lower glucose levels. They’d also recommend certain lifestyle changes such as dietary choices and exercise to avoid complications.

As a primary member of your diabetic care team, you should diligently abide by your physician’s guidance. Furthermore, it is also recommend to schedule at least four diabetes checkups per year in addition to yearly physical exams.


While a primary care physician can expertly manage your diabetic conditions, there’re times when they’d refer you to a specialist. This particularly happens with a delayed diagnosis which causes the prognosis to worsen over time. The primary physician may either direct you to a specialist or include them in the team. They may get an endocrinologist on board as they specialize in hormones and glands. An endocrinologist helps with complications like diabetic ketoacidosis, hypoglycemia, or resistance to existing medications.

Other physicians include a podiatrist i.e. a foot specialist who manages diabetes-associated neuropathy. It is a condition in which hyperglycemia may disrupt the nerve connection between extremities such as the lower leg and feet and the brain. As a result the extremities may feel numb and may develop complications if not treated promptly.

Since complications associated with diabetes may affect the eyes, kidneys, and heart – the team may also consist of an ophthalmologist, nephrologist, and cardiologist. In case of nerve damage, a neurologist may get on board as well.

A major part of diabetes management is a diet which plays a crucial role in preventing complications. Hence, a dietician or nutritionist is refer to develop a suitable diet plan. The goal is to ensure an adequate portion of each food group for maximum nutrition.

To help people with paralysis or limit mobility after a stroke, are offer rehabilitative care via a physiatrist. Lastly, what many people are unaware of is the effect of diabetes on a person’s mental health. Diabetes distress is a common issue that needs medical supervision, which is effectively incorporate by a primary care physician.