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Know Your Internal-Medicine

Internal medicine is a medical branch concerned with preventing, diagnosing, and treating diseases, which are unclassifiable, as well as multi-system diseases and/or injuries. It has its roots from the German word, 'Innere Medizin', which means ‘internal medicine’. Physicians were known as internists or internal medicine doctors, as they focused on ‘inner’ diseases rather than just treating the exhibited signs and symptoms. This specialty analyses the underlying pathological reason for symptoms by combining the laboratory and clinical assessment of bedside patients and patients in emergency wards.

Who is an internal medicine doctor?

An internal medicine physician is a doctor who specialises in adult medicine in order to solve diagnostic concerns, manage long-term illnesses, and assist patients suffering from multiple and complex chronic conditions. They provide comprehensive and long-term care to patients and maintains long-term relationships with their patients, and their recommendations to patients are tailored to each patient's specific situation.

What does an internal medicine doctor do?

  • An internal medicine physician is well-versed in multisystem examinations and treating disorders of all the parts of the body caused by the complex nature of illnesses.
  • They deal with unidentifiable presentations of complex illnesses that cannot be treated by a single-organ specialist's expertise, such as weight loss, change in the state of consciousness, and shortness of breath.
  • They serve as general physicians wherever necessary.
  • They are trained to perform various medical procedures and to monitor patients suffering from severe and complex illnesses.
  • They review patients prior to surgery (pre-operative evaluation) as requested by surgeons to review and advise them on the patient's general risk status and, when appropriate, refer patients for proper management to reduce the risk of the operation.

Common conditions treated by an internal medicine doctor

Internal medicine doctors treat a variety of medical conditions, including serious acute illnesses. Some of the common conditions treated by them include:

Metabolic and endocrine disorders: A variety of lifestyle conditions and disorders, such as diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol levels, a high body mass index, and thyroid problems, have infiltrated our lives today. Although they seem to be common, they can also be detrimental to your health. As a result, it is critical to obtain a timely diagnosis and treatment options in order to manage your condition efficiently.

Respiratory diseases: Lung infections, allergies, asthma, sinus infections, pneumonitis, and tuberculosis are examples of respiratory diseases that necessitate medical attention. If you ignore its symptoms and leave them untreated, these infections can become chronic and lead to serious medical problems.

Stomach infection: Everyone has had a stomach infection at some point in their lives. Vomiting, diarrhoea, bloating (stomach gas), stomach pain, and hyperacidity are some common symptoms. The consultant internal medicine doctors evaluate your symptoms, perform the necessary diagnostic tests, and provide treatment and medication to provide you with immediate relief.

Joint disorders: Issues with the joints are very common, and some of the common problems associated with the joints include back pain, foot pain, and a frozen shoulder. All these conditions require medical attention. If necessary, the consultant internal medicine doctor can refer you to orthopaedics for further treatment.

Other common ailments: For other health issues like fever, cough, cold, headache, migraine, muscular weakness, lethargy, and infections, you should consult your internal medicine doctor.

What to expect at an internal medicine doctor’s visit

What happens when you visit an internist is determined by the reason for your visit. Nonetheless, you can probably expect the following:

  • Your vital signs will be taken by the doctor.
  • Your medical history and medication list will be taken by the doctor.
  • The physician will inquire about your symptoms as well as your overall health.
  • A physical examination will be performed on you by the doctor.
  • The doctor may advise some screening tests to further evaluate your health problem.
  • The doctor may advise you on lifestyle changes and steps you can take to avoid future problems.

In short, the doctor wants to obtain a comprehensive picture of your health.

Distinction between general physicians and internal medicine practitioners

The first distinction is that general physicians treat patients of all ages, including children. They assist them in overcoming various types of health problems by providing medication. Internal medicine doctors, on the other hand, only treat adults. They are trained to treat the numerous health issues that the adult body encounters at various stages.

Also, general physicians are educated on a wide range of health issues and medicines. Internists, on the other hand, not only receive general health training, but are also trained in specific fields such as psychiatry, oncology, and cardiology.

Common procedures performed by internal medicine physicians

Internal medicine doctors are trained in the skills and knowledge required to perform specific medical procedures. Common medical procedures performed by them include lumbar puncture, paracentesis (draining fluid from certain parts of the body for diagnostic or therapeutic purposes), thoracentesis (draining fluid between the outside lining of the lungs and the chest wall), and central venous catheter placement.

Other procedures that are less invasive and performed by an internal medicine consultant include endotracheal intubation, flexible sigmoidoscopy, venepuncture for blood testing, an arterial puncture for blood gases, inserting IV lines and nasogastric (NG) tubes, and placing urinary catheters.

Frequently Asked Questions

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