The medical environment today is quite complicated. So many different types of diseases and conditions affect adult health. Internal medicine doctors or internists are doctors who provide prevention, diagnosis and long-term treatment of adult diseases in their medical practices, hospitals, hospices and old-age homes among other areas. As an adult, it is advisable to have an internist as a primary care physician who can advise you on how to maintain good health, perform routine check up and be the lead in the diagnosis and treatment process whenever you need it.
Internists also have subspecialties where they concentrate on a specific area in internal medicine. These subspecialties rely on their medical background to help their patients in disease prevention and health promotion. It takes a doctor additional one to three years of subspecialty training after the medical school and the standard three-year general residency to become a specialist. Subspecialty areas in this branch of medicine include:
- Adolescent medicine: The body undergoes many changes during adolescent years. Adult medicine specialists evaluate medical and behavioral problems in puberty and come up with treatment options for the patients developmental needs
- Nephrology: This subspecialty is concerned with the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of kidney diseases. The specialists also treat the conditions that these diseases produce such as hypertension and Type 2, which can lead to kidney failure.
- Geriatrics: It is concerned with the health and well-being of seniors or older adults. Specialists in this field deal with age related conditions, incontinence, falls, pre and postoperative assessment and management, dementia and sensory impairment among others.
- Endocrinology: Hormones initiate and regulate various functions in the body. Endocrinologists diagnose and manage conditions that affect the levels of hormone production and related organs such as the thyroid, kidney, brain and hypothalamus among others.
- Gastroenterology: The gastrointestinal tract or digestive tract is made up of the esophagus, stomach, small intestines, large intestines, pancreases and the liver. Gastroenterologists are concerned with disorders and conditions that affect these organs.
- Cardiology: This branch of medicine is concerned with treatment of conditions affecting the heart, blood vessels and the circulatory system in adults. Broadly, trained doctors can also perform general physical checkups on adults.
- Allergy and Immunology is concerned with preventing, diagnosing and treating problems that affect the human immune system. These internists often work closely with many of the other specialists.
- Hematology: Hematologists treat diseases and conditions, such as anemia, bone marrow failures and blood malignancies. They specialize in conditions affecting the blood, lymphatic system and bone marrow.
- Oncology: This is the branch of medicine that deals with diagnosing and treating cancer. Oncologists can either be surgical or radiation oncologists.
- Pulmonologist: This branch of medicine is concerned with diseases of the lungs and bronchial tubes. Sometimes it also involves an evaluation of the upper respiratory tract (ENT) and the heart.
- Rheumatology: There are more than 100 diseases that affect joints, muscles and bones. Rheumatologists can diagnose, treat and manage patients suffering from any of these conditions including arthritis, gout, lupus and back pain among others.