Joslin Answers Your Questions

Joslin Diabetes Center experts answer commonly asked questions about diabetes monitoring, treatment, self-care, meal planning, and more.
Joslin Diabetes Center. Walgreens. A trusted team for Diabetes care.
Topic: General Concerns
Question: When should I see a diabetes specialist instead of my primary care physician? In addition to my physician?

Answer: The answer depends on several pieces of information that you have, or should have, available.

First, you should have the results of five key tests that determine your risk for future diabetes-related complications:
  1. A1C
  2. Blood pressure
  3. Lipids (LDL and HDL cholesterol, as well as triglycerides)
  4. Microalbumin
  5. Dilated eye exam

If the results of any of these are outside of your target, then you should ask your primary care physician for advice about improving them. If they remain out of range, that would be a reason for a referral to a specialist to see if you could find a successful approach to improving the specific result or results that are out of range.

What if your test results are all in a good range? First, congratulations! You have done a good job of reducing your risk.

However, there are still some other good reasons for a referral. For example, you may have satisfactory test results, but are having too much difficulty maintaining them. Perhaps an insulin pump, a continuous glucose monitor, the addition of a new medication, or an adjustment in your present regimen could provide you with some relief. If you are on insulin and are having too many low blood glucose episodes, seeing an endocrinologist and/or a diabetes educator could help you determine if you should change your insulin, food, or exercise regimen. Or, maybe you are doing well and are feeling fairly comfortable with your diabetes regimen, but are curious about new medicines, devices, or research. In addition, you may just want to touch base with a specialist to make sure that "all your bases are covered." These all are good reasons for a referral to a diabetes specialist.

The two most important points to keep in mind about your diabetes are that:
  • you need to feel reasonably comfortable with the ways in which you are fitting diabetes management into your life, and
  • you are confident that your test results are in a range that will protect you from future complications. If you aren't quite where you want to be, then seeking some additional advice is the right step to take.

View Joslin Answers Your Questions Archive
View other Joslin Diabetes Center educational resources

Back to List


Disclaimer: Except for information, products or services which are clearly identified as being provided by Joslin Diabetes Center, Joslin does not endorse any products or control any information, products or services, including those of Walgreens, on this or any other website. Joslin has not reviewed the products or services described or advertised on this website and makes no representation regarding such products' nutritional value or role in diabetes management.


DISCLAIMER: The information provided is not a substitute for medical advice. Consult your physician for diagnosis and treatment of your medical condition. Advances in medicine may cause this information to become outdated, invalid or subject to debate. Professional opinions and interpretations of the scientific literature may vary. Walgreens' terms of use and general warranty disclaimer apply to all services provided. If you are in need of immediate medical attention, contact your physician, poison control center or emergency medical professional.