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Taking control of diabetes: Primary Care’s role in diabetes management

Oct. 28, 2023, 9:03 a.m.

Original article published in The Paper


Diabetes is a chronic health condition that affects 37 million people in the US.

It requires comprehensive management to treat diabetes and prevent health problems caused by uncontrolled diabetes.

A Primary Care Provider (PCP) such as doctors, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants play an important part in diabetes management. By understanding the role of a PCP, we can appreciate the valuable support and guidance they provide on the journey to living a healthy, fulfilling life with diabetes.

Diabetes is a chronic condition that impairs how our body uses glucose, a source of energy. There are two main types of diabetes. Type 1, usually diagnosed before the age of 30, is an autoimmune condition where the body does not produce insulin. Type 2 diabetes is a condition in which the body does not produce enough insulin and is insulin resistant. Regardless of the type, diabetes requires lifelong management to prevent serious complications such as heart disease, nerve damage, kidney problems, and blindness.

Primary Care Providers are often the first point of contact for a person with diabetes seeking medical care.

When it comes to diabetes management, PCPs have several important responsibilities:

1. Diagnosis: PCPs conduct screenings and diagnostic tests to identify individuals with diabetes. Early diagnosis allows for timely interventions and better long-term health outcomes.
Regular monitoring: PCPs perform regular checkups, screenings, and laboratory studies. They interpret the results and discuss them with patients making adjustments to the treatment plan when needed.
2. Medication management: Diabetes often requires medication to regulate blood sugar control. There are many options of medications available to patients, including injections as well as oral medications. PCPs discuss the options with patients and prescribe and adjust medication dosages to achieve the appropriate medication plan. They educate patients on how and when to take their medications, potential side effects, and proper storage.
3. Education and counseling: Primary Care Providers educate patients about diabetes, its management, and the importance of lifestyle modifications. They address questions, concerns, and misconceptions empowering patients to make informed decisions about their health.
4. Care coordination: Primary Care Providers may refer patients to other healthcare specialists, such as dietitians, diabetes educators, or endocrinologists. These referrals ensure people with diabetes receive comprehensive and coordinated diabetes management.

The role of a Primary Care Provider in treating diabetes extends beyond medical expertise. They serve as educators, advocates, and partners on the journey toward better health. By diagnosing, monitoring, managing medication plans, and coordinating diabetes care, PCPs play a vital role in helping people with diabetes take control of their condition. Remember, you are not alone in this journey; your Primary Care Provider is there to support you every step of the way!

Tara Mode RN, BSN, CDCES is a diabetes educator with Burke Primary Care in Morganton.

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