Internal medicine is concerned with diseases of the internal organs that affect adults and, in certain instances, adolescents. An internal medicine doctor is a doctor who specializes in internal medicine and is educated in primary care. Internists are trained to diagnose, cure, and prevent disease. They also promote health via methods such as wellness education. There are numerous subspecialties of internal medicine in addition to basic internal medicine. Rheumatologists, for example, treat arthritis, cardiologists handle heart problems, and gastroenterologists address problems with the stomach and intestines. All of these specialists, on the other hand, begin their careers as internists and receive the same training.
Internal Medicine Basics
In some respects, internists are similar to family practice physicians. Internists treat a wide variety of illnesses and medical problems, with an emphasis on adult medicine. An internist may care for the same patient for many years, treating both common and difficult long-term diseases like heart disease, cancer, or diabetes. Some internists specialize in the care of the elderly, while others may focus on the treatment of older adolescents. An internist may treat patients with drug addiction issues, skin disorders, or nervous system issues. Some internists may extend their practices to include operations such as abscess drainage, according to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Invasive or Interventional Internists
Internal medicine specialties are divided into two categories: those who conduct invasive procedures similar to surgery and those who provide medical care to patients. Specialists such as pulmonologists, interventional cardiologists, and gastroenterologists belong to the first category. Gastroenterologists detect rectal cancers and treat patients with other gastrointestinal issues through procedures such as colonoscopies. For example, if you have heartburn or ulcers, you should visit a gastroenterologist. Pulmonologists use bronchoscopies and other tests to detect lung cancer and treat patients with asthma and other pulmonary issues. Interventional cardiologists conduct cardiac catheterizations and treat a wide range of heart and vascular conditions.
Medical Treatment Specialists
Internal medicine doctors include oncologists, hematologists, endocrinologists, infectious disease specialists, nephrologists, and hospice and palliative care specialists. Hematologists specialize in blood disorders and may treat patients with conditions like leukemia or hemophilia. Oncologists are doctors who specialize in treating cancers of different types. Endocrinologists are doctors who specialize in diseases including diabetes and thyroid problems. Nephrologists are doctors who specialize in renal medical care, such as dialysis for kidney failure. Infectious disease internists may treat patients with AIDS, TB, or other severe diseases. Internists in hospice and palliative medicine provide care to individuals who are nearing the end of their lives or who need help being comfortable when treatment is no longer an option.
Internal Medicine’s Other Specialties
Internal medicine has a few subspecialties that are less well-known. An internist, for example, could specialize in congenital heart disease, a cardiology speciality. Advanced heart failure and transplant cardiology are two additional subspecialties in this area. These doctors help patients with serious heart failure who are awaiting or have had a heart transplant. Cardiac electrophysiology is another subspecialty concerned with the heart — specifically, its electrical rhythms. Other internal medicine specialties include sleep medicine and sports medicine. The internist treats patients with sleep disorders such as sleep apnea in the first. Sports medicine internists are experts in diagnosing and treating sports and exercise injuries. Internal medicine and gastroenterology are combined in transplant hepatology, and these doctors treat patients who require or have undergone a liver transplant.