Family medicine doctors treat patients of all ages, while internal medicine doctors typically work with adults only. The two branches overlap in many ways, so it can be hard to tell whether you should see a family doctor or an internist. At Your Family Medical in Bedford, TX, we work with both types of doctors. Read on to find out more about the differences and to learn what a family doctor can help you with.
What Is the Difference Between Family Medicine and Internal Medicine?
Family doctors and internal medicine specialists have very similar job descriptions. They both treat a wide range of conditions, and they often work at clinics or in private practices. However, family doctors are able to treat babies, children, and adults of all ages. Internal medicine doctors only treat patients aged 18 and up.
Sometimes, physicians who studied internal medicine are more specialized. They typically treat people with conditions related to internal organs and structures. Some common problems include heart disease, nervous system issues, musculoskeletal issues, and concerns related to reproductive health. However, many internists are also able to address mental health concerns and problems like substance abuse.
Which Kind of Doctor Is Right for Me?
The best way to find out which doctor is suitable for you and your family is to reach out to us and book an initial consultation. We employ internists, family doctors, and geriatric doctors, so every patient can find the services they need. If you have children, a family specialist might be best because they can offer you and your children a comprehensive service.
Sticking with the same doctor for many years is almost always a good idea. That way, you can build up a relationship with your physician. Because the doctor knows you well, it’s easier for them to interpret your symptoms and provide you with an accurate diagnosis. Book at least one appointment per year, so your doctor can monitor your condition and check whether you’re still in good health.
What Kinds of Conditions Can a Family Doctor Treat?
A family doctor’s job is to take care of your and your children’s general health. They can diagnose and treat most conditions and help you to keep on top of your mental health. A big part of the focus is prevention, so your doctor might help you to lead a healthy lifestyle. If you have a serious health concern, the family specialist might collaborate with other professionals to offer you a comprehensive service.
Some of the most common issues addressed by family doctors are infectious diseases, injuries and accidents, chronic pain, children’s growth and development issues, and women’s health problems. They can also treat issues related to aging. Family doctors typically encourage patients to book regular physicals and screening appointments, so serious diseases can be detected early.
Infectious diseases are common in all age groups, but children are particularly prone to them because they haven’t yet built up a strong immune system. The first time your little one becomes seriously ill is very scary. That’s why you need a good family doctor who can reassure you, diagnose your child’s condition, and give you tips about how to handle the disease.
Aside from colds and flu, children often contract stomach flu, bronchitis, chickenpox, and skin infections. Typically, these illnesses get better on their own, but medication and special care are sometimes required. Don’t hesitate to call us at Your Family Medical if your child is ill. We’ll ask you about the symptoms and book an in-person appointment if we believe it is necessary.
Injuries and Accidents
Almost everyone gets injured at some point in life. Children are particularly accident-prone because they are often very physically active, and they don’t yet know how to assess risks. When you first visit your family doctor, they’ll let you know about common injury prevention strategies. They might ask you to start new exercise routines slowly, wear the right kinds of clothes when performing physical activities, and stretch before and after working out.
If someone in your family is injured, give us a call. Many small injuries like muscle strains and joint sprains don’t require medical care, and they can be treated at home. However, you have to pay us a visit if the symptoms don’t improve within a week or two. We’ll perform imaging studies to diagnose the issue and then either offer you treatment or refer you to a musculoskeletal specialist.
Experts estimate that 18-35% of Americans suffer from chronic pain. While this issue can affect almost anyone, it is more common in older people whose tissues are slower to recover from accidents and illnesses. Chronic pain is typically caused by certain medical conditions, long-lasting injuries, inflammation, and emotional factors.
Sometimes, the underlying cause of the pain can be resolved. However, many painful conditions are permanent, so patients have to learn to manage their symptoms. At the clinic, we offer a wide range of pain management treatments. They include anti-inflammatory injections, platelet-rich plasma injections, stem cell therapy, and kyphoplasty or vertebroplasty.
Growth and Development Issues
Family medicine specialists can treat children from the time they are born. If your baby is healthy, we recommend coming to the clinic six times during their first year, three or four times during their second year, and once or twice a year after that. During each appointment, your doctor checks your child’s height and weight to make sure they are growing well.
They might also perform certain tests and ask you whether your child has reached the appropriate developmental milestones. If the doctor believes that there is an issue, they might recommend further testing. Most children with minor developmental issues catch up over time, but some conditions require further attention.
Women’s Health and Wellness Issues
At Your Family Medical, we treat women of all ages. Young patients going through puberty might require care if they have severe acne, menstrual issues, or hormonal problems. They might also need to see a doctor to learn about and access birth control. Pregnant patients require more frequent care, and they should visit their family doctor at least once a month.
Family doctors can also treat women going through menopause. These patients often have symptoms like hot flashes, night sweats, mood changes, memory loss, and sleep problems. They might also have sexual health issues such as vaginal dryness. Hormone replacement therapy is one of the most successful menopause treatments because it helps patients to get rid of virtually all these symptoms.
Screening and Prevention
Patients require different types of screening appointments, depending on their medical history and life stage. Most people benefit from an annual physical exam because this allows their family doctor to record any changes. During this appointment, the doctor might use instruments to look inside the patient’s eyes, nose, and ears. They might check their blood pressure, weight, and height. They will also speak to patients about their lifestyles and habits.
As people get older, issues like heart disease and cancer become more likely. That’s why patients over the age of 50 require more frequent screening tests. We often recommend blood tests, colonoscopies, mammograms, pap smears, and prostate cancer tests. If there is a family history of disease, patients might need to book screening appointments at a younger age or more frequently.
Patients over 65 have unique requirements. They frequently suffer from long-term conditions like diabetes, arthritis, and dementia. Although family doctors are qualified to diagnose and treat these issues, some older people prefer to see a geriatric medicine specialist. This doctor works exclusively with patients in this age group and is therefore familiar with a wide range of issues they might encounter.
It’s up to you whether you’d like to switch to a geriatric doctor or remain with your familiar physician. If you’re in good general health and have minor medical issues, the family doctor is a good choice. However, you might want to see a more specialized medical professional if you have a chronic illness like cancer or Alzheimer’s disease. At Your Family Medical, we employ geriatricians who meet the unique needs of people over 65.
Find a Great Doctor for the Whole Family
Family medicine specialists treat patients of all ages, but internal medicine doctors focus on adults. Both can diagnose and treat a wide range of conditions like infectious diseases, injuries and accidents, chronic pain, and women’s health and wellness issues. Reach out to us at Your Family Medical in Bedford, TX to book your first appointment with one of our physicians.