SSM Cardinal Glennon Children's Medical Center
(314) 577-5600
www.cardinalglennon.com
 

Your Diabetes Health Care Team

When you have diabetes, you and your family have a lot to learn. The good news is that people you can count on will help you and your parents understand diabetes and what you need to do to stay healthy.

Before you had diabetes, maybe you only met with a doctor or nurse when you went for a checkup. But now you may meet with many different people to help you understand your diabetes. Taking care of diabetes requires the know-how of many different health care workers. In fact, you'll have your very own team of experts to help you.

You'll have team members who will help you know what to eat, tell you which medicine to take, teach you all about diabetes and how to take care of yourself, and help you deal with any feelings or frustrations you're having about taking care of your diabetes.

So, who's the captain of this team? You are! That's right — you are the most important member of your diabetes team. Your parents still play a very important role — think of them as your cocaptains. But mostly everyone on the team is working to help you take care of your diabetes.

Here are some other diabetes team members you may meet during your checkups:

Doctors

Your doctor is like your diabetes team coach. He or she can teach you all about diabetes and can come up with a game plan for taking care of your diabetes. This game plan is called a treatment plan, or diabetes management plan.

Your doctor might be a pediatric endocrinologist (say: pee-dee-at-rik en-doh-krih-nal-eh-jist). Pediatric endocrinologists help kids with diabetes, growth problems, and more. But other kinds of doctors like pediatricians and family doctors can also help kids with diabetes.

When you go to see your doctor, he or she will ask you questions about how you're feeling and will check different parts of your body. You'll also get your blood pressure taken with a cuff that goes around your arm. And to see how you're doing with your diabetes, your doctor may look at your diabetes records and check your blood sugar level or get a urine (pee) sample.

Just like the coach of a team, your doctor doesn't do it all alone. He or she will want to hear what the other team members have to say, then make changes to your diabetes plan if they're needed.

Certified Diabetes Educators (CDEs)

Certified diabetes educators (say: ser-tuh-fide dye-uh-be-tees eh-dyoo-kay-ters) are people who have special training in helping people manage their diabetes. These professionals will teach you what diabetes is and how it affects the body.

They'll also:

  • help you and your parents learn how to give insulin (say: in-suh-lin) shots if you need them or use an insulin pump
  • teach you and your parents what to do if you have high and low blood sugar levels
  • show your parents how to adjust your insulin when you're exercising or not feeling well
  • show you how to test your blood sugar levels and make sure your testing machines work right
  • talk to you and your parents about any problems you might be having with your diabetes

Dietitians

Registered dietitians are experts in food and nutrition. They will:

  • teach you about how food affects your blood sugar levels and make sure you're getting enough food to grow and develop properly
  • ask you questions about the types of foods you like to eat and how much exercise you get each day
  • help your parents plan meals and snacks that fit into your schedule
  • give you some tasty snack ideas
  • you learn how to make healthy food choices
  • help you make changes to your meal plan when you have special occasions like sporting events, vacations, holidays, and parties

Make sure to tell the dietitian if you're feeling hungry all the time or have other questions about how and what you eat.

Mental Health Professionals

Mental health professionals are social workers, psychologists, psychiatrists, or counselors, and they can be a big help for kids dealing with diabetes. If you're feeling sad or frustrated about your diabetes, they can help you.

Mental health professionals may ask you about any troubles or problems you're having at home or at school. Or they may ask you if you think your friends or family members are doing anything that is making it hard for you to take care of your diabetes.

So now you know who's on your diabetes team. It's a good feeling to know that you have a lot of people to help you take care of yourself. This team is dedicated to helping you feel your best and be your healthiest. Go, team!

Reviewed by: Steven Dowshen, MD
Date reviewed: June 2011