Internal medicine physicians, called internists, focus on adult care. They diagnose, prevent, and treat various adult diseases - from blood, heart, and joint problems to conditions of the eyes, ears, skin, and reproductive organs, depending on which of the internal medicine subspecialties they focus on.
Internists listen to patients’ medical histories, perform physical exams, recommend lab tests, coordinate preventive screenings, make diagnoses, and prescribe medication or further action to address the issue. They also act as expert consultants for other physicians to help address adult medical problems.
Internal medicine doctors have different pathways. After their residency, many become general internists who address a spectrum of illnesses without limiting themselves to one medical problem or body system. Others choose to be internal medicine specialists, attending two to four more years of fellowship training, to focus on one body area and understand how it impacts the human system.
Let’s explore some of the internal medicine subspecialties that you have to choose from.
5 Internal Medicine Subspecialties and What They Entail
Doctors in this internal medicine subspecialty focus on diagnosing, treating, preventing, and managing blood vessels and heart conditions.
Specialists in this field focus on:
- Chronic coronary heart disease.
- Congestive heart failure.
- Myocardial infarction.
- Diseases of the arteries, pulmonary circulation, and veins.
Specialists in this field concentrate on the care of the endocrine system and metabolic dysfunctions. They deal with conditions related to people’s adrenal, pancreatic, pituitary, and thyroid glands, as well as the ovaries and testes and their target tissues.
This internal medicine subspecialty helps with concerns like:
- Bone and lipid metabolism.
- Hormone abnormalities.
- Reproductive disorders.
- Thyroid problems and goiter.
Third on our list of internal medicine subspecialties is gastroenterology. Physicians in this field address conditions of the colon, digestive system, gall bladder, liver, rectum, and the entire gastrointestinal tract. They also have advanced training in nutrition and medical nutritional disorders.
These specialists see patients with problems regarding:
- Chronic heartburn.
- Constipation and indigestion.
- Irritable bowel syndrome.
- Stomach pains.
4. Infectious Diseases
Infectious disease specialists are experts in bacterial, fungal, parasitic, and viral infections that occur in the human body. They are also educated in the fields of antibiotics, antimicrobial and immunobiological agents, and vaccines. These physicians work to treat and limit the transmission of contagious diseases.
Doctors in this internal medicine subspecialty tackle:
- Bone infections.
- Common colds and flu.
- Skin conditions.
- Strep throat and sinus infections.
As people age, the body’s immune system is more susceptible to attacks of external infections. Plus, their bones, connective and soft tissues, muscles, and joints tend to deteriorate. If these are not addressed properly, they could lead to disabling or fatal diseases.
With rheumatologists, such illnesses, along with disorders related to the musculoskeletal and autoimmune system, are diagnosed, managed, and treated accordingly. While these specialists are not surgeons, they work with orthopedic surgeons to help patients treat their concerns.
Some of the conditions they address are:
- Sports injuries.
Internal medicine subspecialties offer physicians the best of both worlds and allow them to address both common and complex medical conditions. On one hand, they apply clinical knowledge and scientific expertise to address people’s concerns. On the other, they display compassion and care for adults – whether across a range of health illnesses or specific body disorders. Beyond that, internists specialize in promoting people’s overall health and preventing illnesses.