Also referred to as an internist, an internal medicine physician is a medical professional who focuses on adult healthcare. They use the best medical science available to provide their patients with top-quality healthcare services while maintaining a meaningful, thoughtful doctor-patient relationship. Internists spend 3 of their 7 or more years of medical school and postgraduate training learning how to prevent, diagnose, and treat health conditions that affect adults. Once they complete this basic training, internists, such as the ones in Herrera Medical Group in Lewisville, TX qualify to practice internal medicine.
General Internal Medicine
Once they complete the basic internal medicine training, many internists enter into practice as general internists. General internists practice general internal medicine that revolves around a broad and comprehensive spectrum of health conditions that affect adults. They are also qualified to diagnose and treat chronic illnesses.
Additionally, sincethey are not limited to treating one organ system or one medical condition, general internists play a crucial role in health promotion and disease prevention. They are well equipped to handle puzzling diagnostic problems, including multiple chronic severe illnesses that occur at the same time. They are qualified to provide primary care to adults throughout their lives, giving them a unique opportunity to form long-lasting and rewarding doctor-patient relationships.
Internal Medicine Subspecialties
Some internists undergo further training to become specialists in a specific area of internal medicine. Also known as a fellowship, subspecialty training takes 1 to 3 more years upon completion of internal medicine residency. Although physicians who undergo this further training are often referred by their area of subspecialty, they are also considered as internists. Internists who receive subspecialty training are qualified to handle complex health issues and are often involved in advanced clinical procedures.
What Does an Internal Medicine Physician Treat?
Men’s and Women’s Health
Internists can offer several healthcare services that cover broad men and women’s health issues. Such services include:
- Men’s preventive and primary care
- STD testing & treatment
- HIV / AIDS screening
- Screening for blood pressure, diabetes, and cholesterol
- Women’s preventive and primary care
- Annual exams, including screening for breast and cervical cancer
- Birth control methods including long-acting reversible contraception, such as hormonal pills, foam, ring, shot, films, condoms, and I.U.D.s
- Birth spacing and inter-conception health counseling
- Preconception and early prenatal healthcare
- Family planning and reproductive life planning
- Treatment for urinary tract (UTI) and yeast infections
- Pregnancy tests
- Screening for blood pressure, diabetes, and cholesterol
Men and Women
- Nutritional consultation
- Patient education
Internists help people struggling with addiction and substance abuse to overcome their challenges. They offer outpatient counseling services and maintenance medication depending on the severity and type of alcohol or drug addiction.
Types of Addiction Treatment
To determine the most appropriate type of substance abuse treatment for a patient, an internist reviews your type and severity of the addiction. The majority of people struggling with substance abuse require some form of detox to clear alcohol or drugs from their system. Depending on the severity, the doctor might recommend inpatient or residential treatment.
Detox helps patients to slowly reduce substance abuse in a safe and secure medical setup. A qualified health professional supervises your progress, ensuring you do not relapse. If the treatment is on an outpatient basis, the doctor might give you prescription medication and ask you to make daily appointments so they can monitor your progress.
This treatment option requires a patient to stay in a specialized facility. While there, the patient receives a range of services, including detox. They are also required to attend individual and group therapy sessions. Depending on the severity of their addiction, patients might receive medication-assisted treatment or other complementary treatments.
Partial Hospitalization Programs (PHP)
Although patients stay in a rehab facility or a sober living home and receive the same services as someone in an inpatient program, they attend fewer hours of therapy. They can also leave the facility or sober living home for school, work, or family visits.
Outpatient treatment is ideal after a stay at an inpatient facility. Although you no longer live in an inpatient facility, medication-assisted and individual and group session therapy continues during outpatient treatment. The hours you spend in therapy and the number of appointments are reduced as you progress through your recovery journey.
Mental Health Issues
An internist can help people who have mental illness. Some of the mental disorders that an internist can help with include:
People who suffer from clinical depression are in a constant depressed mood. They also lose interest in activities they previously enjoyed, experiencing significant interruption of daily life.
People who struggle with anxiety disorder experience feelings of worry, fear, and anxiety that are strong enough to prevent them from living a normal, healthy life.
People with bipolar disorder experience extreme episodes of mood swings that vary from depressive lows to manic highs.
Dementia is a general term that covers a group of thinking and social symptoms, including a decline of memory, language, and other problem-solving skills.
Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
People with ADHD experience attention difficulty, hyperactivity, and impulsiveness. ADHD starts in childhood and can continue into adulthood, contributing to low self-esteem and troubled relationships. People with ADHD also have a hard time at work or in school.
Although it is not clear what exactly causes schizophrenia, health professionals believe a combination of environment, genetics, and altered brain chemistry and structure are to blame. Schizophrenic people have trouble thinking, feeling, and behaving clearly.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
OCD gives people unreasonable fear and thoughts, leading to compulsive behavior. The majority of people with OCD have an irrational fear of germs or the need to arrange items in a specific order or manner.
Autism spectrum disorder affects the nervous system, impairing the ability to communicate and interact.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
People who suffer from PTSD struggle to recover after witnessing or experiencing a terrifying event. PTSD can last for months or years. Triggers can bring back memories of trauma and are often followed by intense emotional and physical distress.
An internist can address health issues that affect the skin, nails, hair, and mucous membranes. Since the skin is the largest body organ, it is a good indicator of over health. It also protects the body from pathogens and injury. Dermatologists can treat over 3000 conditions that affect the skin. Dermatology addresses the following common problems:
- Fungal infections
- Hair loss
- Dermatitis and eczema
- Nail problems
- Shingles, or herpes zoster
- Skin cancer
Nervous System Problems
The nervous system is a sophisticated system that controls and coordinates body functions. It is made up of two major parts; the central nervous system that includes the brain and the spinal cord, and the peripheral nervous system that consists of all other neural elements, such as the autonomic nerves and the peripheral nerves. Other principal organs of the nervous system include:
- Sensory organs of smell
- Sensory organs of taste
- Sensory receptors located in the muscles, joints, the skin and other parts of the body
Common nervous system problems include:
Several infections can affect the nervous system, such as encephalitis, meningitis, epidural abscess, and polio.
Functional disorders include headaches, dizziness, neuralgia, and epilepsy.
These include; brain or spinal cord injury, brain or spinal cord tumors, cervical spondylosis, Bell’s palsy, peripheral neuropathy, Guillain-Barré syndrome, and carpal tunnel syndrome.
These include; stroke, subdural hemorrhage and hematoma, subarachnoid hemorrhage, extradural hemorrhage, and transient ischemic attack (TIA).
These include; multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington chorea, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
Half of all the deaths in the United States are caused by preventable behaviors and exposures. Chronic respiratory disease, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, some infectious diseases, and unintentional injuries are some of the leading causes of death. An additional half a million people die from poor diet and a sedentary lifestyle each year in the U.S. Also known as prophylaxis, preventative healthcare focuses on measures to prevent disease. It relies on anticipatory actions to prevent disease and disability affected by genetic predisposition, environmental factors, lifestyle choices, and disease agents.
Preventative care encourages adults to visit their doctor for regular checkups, even when they feel healthy. This allows the doctor to screen them for disease, to offer them tips for a healthy and balanced lifestyle, to identify any risk factors that increase their susceptibility to disease, to give them up-to-date immunizations and boosters, and to establish and maintain a good doctor-patient relationship. In preventative care, an internist screens you for:
- High blood pressure
- High blood sugar
- High blood cholesterol
- Colon cancer
- HIV and other STIs
- Breast cancer
- Cervical cancer
- Colon cancer
- Colorectal cancer
- Prostate cancer
Women’s Reproductive Organ Concerns
Common reproductive health problems that affect women include:
Endometriosis occurs when the uterine lining tissue grows elsewhere. It can grow on the bowels, behind the uterus, on the bladder, or the ovaries. In rare cases, it can grow on other parts of the body. This causes pain, infertility, and heavy periods. The pain is felt on the lower back, abdomen, or pelvic area.
Uterine fibroids are common noncancerous tumors that affect women of childbearing age. Fibroids comprise muscle cells and other tissues that develop around the wall of the uterus.
Gynecologic cancers include cervical cancer, vaginal cancer, ovarian cancer, uterine cancer, and vulva cancer.
Interstitial Cystitis is a chronic bladder condition that causes constant pain and discomfort in the bladder or the surrounding pelvic area. It causes inflammation and irritation in the bladder walls, causing stiffening and scarring in the bladder.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
PCOS occurs when a woman’s ovaries or adrenal glands produce excess male hormones. Women that suffer from PCOS are more vulnerable to diabetes and heart disease.
Other Women Issues
Additional reproductive organs issues that an internist can address include HIV and other STIs. They can also help victims of sexual violence.
Men’s Reproductive Organ Concerns
Common reproductive health problems that affect men include:
- Enlarged prostate or BPH
- Prostate cancer
- Testicular cancer
- Erectile dysfunction
- Male infertility
- Testosterone deficiency
- Varicocele or dilated veins around the testicle
- Hydrocele or fluid around the testicle
- Undescended testicle
- Urinary tract infections (UTI)
An internist can help people suffering from eyes and ear problems. They can also treat other conditions that affect internal organs.
An internist is also known as a doctor’s doctor. They are qualified to handle a broad spectrum of health conditions that affect adults. Besides offering healthcare services, they are also well equipped to establish long-lasting doctor-patient relationships. They are qualified, passionate, and understanding. To enjoy the services offered by an internal medicine physician, contact Herrera Medical Group in Lewisville, TX!