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What does an internal medicine doctor do for their patients, and should I be seeing one?


If you’ve ever looked for a new doctor, you may have wondered, what does an internal medicine doctor do, and are they right for me? There are several different types of healthcare providers with different specialties, which can confuse choosing the right doctor.

This blog article will explain what an internal medicine doctor treats, the difference between internal medicine and family medicine, and who you should see for your care.

What does an internal medicine doctor do?

Internal medicine doctors, also called internists, are primary care physicians who diagnose and treat complex issues and illnesses in adults. They are often the first line of defense when you’re sick and specialize in health promotion and disease prevention.

Internists provide preventive healthcare services like vaccinations, nutritional counseling, wellness checkups, and common health screenings. They’re also trained to diagnose and treat chronic illnesses and care for patients with more than one disease.

What’s the difference between a family doctor and an internal medicine doctor?

An internal medicine doctor is a bit different from a family doctor, though both can be primary care providers for adults. The most significant difference is that family medicine doctors treat people of all ages, from newborn babies to the elderly, so their training will also include obstetrics and pediatrics.

According to the American Medical Association, an internal medicine doctor can choose to become a general internist or an internal medicine subspecialist. A general internist handles various illnesses that affect adults and is an expert in diagnosing and treating chronic diseases. Others will train in a subspecialty, such as oncology, psychiatry, neurology, dermatology, or cardiology.

Conditions internal medicine doctors treat

An internal medicine doctor can offer a broad range of services and care, including:

  • Routine checkups
  • Treatment of common illnesses and conditions
  • Management of complex, chronic diseases
  • Lifestyle recommendations for improved health

Internists are trained to diagnose and treat most acute and chronic conditions, though they may consult with doctors in other fields of medicine or refer their patients to a specialist when needed.

Some of the common conditions an internal medicine doctor can diagnose and treat include:

  • Flu
  • Common cold
  • Bronchitis
  • Strep throat
  • Pneumonia
  • Arthritis
  • Allergies
  • Asthma
  • Migraines
  • Blood disorders
  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Hypertension
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Ulcers
  • Infectious diseases (hepatitis, tuberculosis, HIV)
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Pulmonary diseases (lung cancer, COPD)
  • Thyroid conditions

When to see an internal medicine doctor

If you’re 18 or older, you should have an internal medicine doctor you regularly see to build a solid doctor-patient relationship that can last throughout your adult life.

How often you see your internist depends on your current health status and your doctor’s recommendations.

  • If you’re in good health with no underlying conditions, you will likely only need to see your doctor every few months or once a year.
  • If you have a medical condition or multiple chronic conditions, they may want to see you more often to manage your health better.

What does an internal medicine doctor do at the annual checkup?

Even healthy adults with no pre-existing medical conditions should get an annual health checkup with their internal medicine doctor or family physician.

This face-to-face appointment once a year allows your doctor to comprehensively look at your overall health and provide any essential disease screenings you may need. It’s a chance to discuss your overall wellness and any lifestyle changes that may benefit you.

Trust the internal medicine physicians at LMH

What does an internal medicine doctor do at Logansport Memorial Hospital? Our board-certified internal medicine physicians provide routine checkups and treat common illnesses and chronic diseases. They will work with you to help you achieve and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Find an internal medicine doctor

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TOPICS: Internal Medicine