Diabetologist – a specialist in diabetes

Prevention and treatment of diabetes

Diabetologist – a specialist in diabetes: Prevention and treatment of diabetes

What is a diabetologist?

In Germany, there are diabetologists certified by the German Diabetes Association (DDG), internists specialising in endocrinology and diabetology or doctors with diabetology as an additional qualification.

Diabetes mellitus, a condition popularly known as “diabetes”, is a metabolic disease in which a person’s blood sugar level is permanently elevated. Diabetology is the medical-scientific discipline that specialises in the research and treatment of all types of diabetes, including:

  • Diabetes mellitus type 1,
  • Diabetes mellitus type 2 (adult-onset diabetes),
  • Diabetes mellitus type 3 (a rare condition) and
  • Gestational diabetes

What does a diabetologist do?

The diabetologist’s tasks include diagnosing and treating all types of diabetes. They also treat diseases that are closely related to diabetes, such as

  • Disturbances affecting lipid metabolism,
  • Severe obesity and
  • High blood pressure.

A diabetologist also carries out preventive examinations with a view to the secondary diseases of diabetes.

Patients with the most common affliction – type 2 diabetes, also referred to as adult-onset diabetes – are usually cared for by their family doctor. Only when insulin therapy becomes necessary or secondary diseases already exist does the diabetologist usually take over responsibility for therapy – in close consultation with the family doctor.

What are the secondary diseases?

  • Peripheral artery disease (PAD):
    A common secondary illness resulting from diabetes is PAD. Due to the presence of deposits, blood flow and oxygen supply to the tissue in the blood vessels supplying the legs are reduced. Symptoms can include cold feet or pain in the legs when walking
  • Diabetic polyneuropathy (PNP):
    If a person’s blood sugar level remains elevated for years, functional damage to nerves can also occur. Depending on the form of impairment, different types of sensory disturbance develop, as does paralysis.
  • Diabetic foot syndrome (DFS):
    This concerns a serious complication resulting from diabetes. This occurs due to nerve damage (diabetic neuropathy) and circulatory problems occurring in the foot or lower leg. This leads to tissue death and ulcers. In a worst-case scenario, the amputation of limbs is necessary.

Note: During compression care for venous diseaselipoedema or lymphoedema with concomitant diabetes mellitus and/or peripheral arterial occlusive disease, special attention must be paid to regular monitoring of the feet and legs during therapy with the aid of medical compression stockings.

Treatment methods deployed by the diabetologist for diabetes

The treatment of diabetes includes the regular monitoring of blood pressure, blood glucose levels and the careful examination of the feet, to be able to make timely and appropriate adjustments to the therapy, for example:

  • Dietary changes and exercise:
    Diabetes patients receive medical advice and training on how to optimise their diet, as well as on how to integrate exercise into everyday life.
  • Education on the pathology and possible secondary diseases: 
    Depending on the type, not only diabetes mellitus but also diseases associated with it are taken into account. Likewise: Secondary diseases such as peripheral arterial occlusive disease (PAD) or diabetic polyneuropathy (PNP).
  • Oral antidiabetics:
    Drug therapy with tablets
  • Insulin therapy:
    Administering insulin with pens, syringes or pumps.

Health personnel will make the diagnosis and can prescribe medical aids, e.g. from medi if necessary.
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