How To Know What Kind Of Doctor Or Medical Specialist You Need
There are numerous types of doctors and medical specialists, and determining which one you need can be difficult. To determine which one is best for you, consider your symptoms, speak with your primary care physician, or use the information provided below.
1. Ask Your Primary Doctor
In general, you should begin by visiting your primary care physician. They can advise you on whether you need to see a specialist and, if so, which one is best for you. You could also could also ask if they can recommend a specialist and who you should see to further investigate your symptoms.
Being comfortable expressing your health concerns to a doctor requires curiosity and bravery, both of which can be difficult to find as you grow into adulthood. To be perfectly honest, some adults still feel uncomfortable. So, if you’re hesitant to consult a doctor we’ve provided a basic age, body, and behavior guide below to medical doctors that can assist.
For additional inspiration, check out the article “I’m ashamed to go the doctor” written by Artur Olesch.
Just keep in mind that your primary care physician (who is familiar with your medical history) is the best resource for finding out what kind of specialist you need because they have the knowledge and skills to make recommendations.
2. Identify Your Symptoms
Healthcare is a very personal and important issue. Another way to begin determining what type of doctor you require is to consider your symptoms.
Try asking yourself questions such as:
What are you feeling?
Are you in discomfort or pain?
Do you have a specific condition or concern that you’re worried about?
Are you suffering from a chronic condition?
Are you in good health but only require a checkup?
Once you understand your symptoms, you can begin researching the various types of doctors and medical specialists who treat those conditions. You can also get recommendations from family and friends.
3. A Quick Reference Guide That Connects Age, Body, and Behavior To Medical Fields
There are numerous kinds of doctors and medical specialists. When looking for a provider, it’s important to understand their background, what kind of doctor they are, and why they recommend the treatments that they do.
When you don’t have all of the information or have too much information in front of you, it can be difficult. This quick age, body, and behavior medical field guide tells you who to see first to get the service you require.
Birth to young adulthood? Consult a Pediatrician or a Family Care Physician.
Adult to age 65? Consult a Family Care Physician or Internal Medicine.
Elderly or over the age 65? Consult a Gerontologist.
Body Parts And Symptoms
Brain, spine or nerve symptom in the body? Consult a Neurologist
Head symptoms like migraines, pain, dizziness or pressure? Consult a Neurologist, ENT or Dentist.
Hair loss or hair growth in new areas? Consult an Endocrinologist, Dermatologist, Gynecologist or Primary Doctor.
Eye issues like injury or visional disturbances? Consult an Ophthalmologist.
Ear, nose or throat problems like ringing, aches or sinus issues? Consult a ENT or Otolaryngologist.
Mouth or Tongue symptoms like inflammation or sores? Consult a Dentist or request blood tests from Primary Doctor.
Teeth or jaw pain? consult a dentist.
Skin symptoms like rash, moles, itching or change of skin color? Consult a Dermatologist or Allergist.
Acne problems? Consult an Endocrinologist or Dermatologist.
Neck, hand, shoulder, knee, spine or back issue? Consult an Orthopedic that specializes in that specific body part. Neck Orthopedist, Hand Orthopedist, Shoulder Orthopedist, Knee Orthopedist and General Orthopedist.
Heart problems, issues or Chest pain? Consult a Cardiologist.
Lungs, breathing or allergy problems? Consult a Pulmonologist.
Stomach and Colon issues like pain, gas, diarrhea, or digestion problems? Consult a Gastroenterologist
Hormone problems like delayed development, puberty or menstrual cycle irregularities? Consult an Endrincologist
Muscle pain? Consult a Primary Doctor, Physiatrists, Neurologist or Orthopedic.
Liver problems? Consult a Hepatologist or Gastroenterologist.
Kidney problems? Consult a Nephrologist.
Pancreas issues? Consult a Hepatologist or Gastroenterologist.
Female Genital organ problems, STD symptoms or pregnancy ? Consult a Gynecologist or Obstetrician.
Male Sexual organ problems or STD symptoms? Consult a Urologist.
Urinary or bladder problem? Consult a Urologist.
Foot or toe symptoms such as fungus, calluses, numbness? Consult a Podiatrist
Bone pain, aches or other symptoms? Consult an Orthopedic.
Autoimmune disease? Consult a Rheumatologist.
Blood disorder or cancer? Consult a Hematologist or Oncologist.
Hereditary concerns or management? Consult a Medical Geneticist.
Pain with a diagnosed condition? Consult a Neurologist, Primary Doctor, Physiatrist or Pain Management Specialist.
Walking has changed? Consult a Neurologist or Primary Doctor.
Development or behavioral problems like Cerebral palsy, Tourette’s syndrome, learning disabilities, ADHD and anxiety? Consult a Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrician.
Involuntary movements anywhere in your body? Consult a Movement Disorder Specialist.
Feeling tired, wired, concerned about hormones, energy levels or just don’t feel the same? Consult an Endocrinologist or Primary Doctor.
Sleep problems or issues? Consult a Sleep Specialist also called Somnologist.
Food management for health conditions or just in general? Consult a Dietitian.
Mental health concerns ? Consult a Neurologist, Psychologist or Psychiatrist.
Substance Abuse? Consult an Addiction Psychiatrist.
Anxiety or Depression? Consult a Therapist, Psychologist or Psychiatrist.
Eating disorders? Consult a Psychologist, Psychiatrist, Dietitian or Licensed Clinical Social Worker.
Doctors And Their Speciality Defined
The American Board of Medical Specialties is made up of 24 Member Boards representing 40 specialties and 88 subspecialties. This list below will contain detailed definition on the ones we’ve listed above.
Family physician —specialize in treating all types of illness and injury for patients of all ages. They are trained to help patients manage chronic conditions like diabetes, asthma, and heart disease, provide preventive care, and address mental and social health issues. They are typically the first point of contact when a patient seeks medical care, and often see patients for regular check-ups, vaccinations, and screenings as well as diagnose and treat illnesses.
Pediatrician — specialize in the care of infants, children, and adolescents. They are trained to diagnose and treat a wide range of childhood illnesses, from the common cold to more serious diseases like cancer. They focus on preventive care, such as immunizations, screenings, and advice on nutrition. Pediatricians take are trained to recognize a child’s physical, mental, and emotional development when diagnosing and treating medical conditions. Pediatricians may specialize in certain areas such as neurology, cardiology, or hematology.
Internal Medicine — specializes in the diagnosis, management, and prevention of diseases and conditions that affect adults. They create individualized treatment plans, taking into account the patient’s medical history, lifestyle, and personal preferences.
In addition to their medical knowledge, internal medicine doctors often provide counseling and guidance to their patients. They are trained to diagnose complex medical issues and coordinate care with other specialists when necessary, and they have extensive knowledge in the areas of cardiology, gastroenterology, endocrinology, nephrology, and pulmonology.
Endrincologist — specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of disorders of the endocrine system. The endocrine system is a network of glands that produce hormones that regulate various body functions. These hormones play a vital role in many processes, including growth and development, metabolism, reproduction, and mood.
Endrincologists often treat patients with conditions such as diabetes, thyroid disorders, and hormone imbalances. Endrincologists use a variety of tests and procedures to diagnose endocrine disorders, and they often work closely with other specialists, such as surgeons, to provide comprehensive care.
Rheumatologist — specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of rheumatic diseases. Rheumatic diseases are conditions that affect the joints, muscles, and bones. Some common rheumatic diseases include arthritis, gout, and lupus.
Rheumatologists use a variety of tests to diagnose rheumatic diseases, including blood tests, x-rays, and MRIs. They also use these tests to monitor the progression of the disease and to assess the effectiveness of treatment. Rheumatologists often work with other specialists, such as orthopedists and physical therapists, to provide comprehensive care for their patients. In addition to diagnosing and treating rheumatic diseases, rheumatologists also conduct research to develop new treatments and improve existing ones.
Physiatrists — specializes in physical medicine and rehabilitation. Physiatrists treat a wide variety of conditions, from back pain and sports injuries to stroke and spinal cord injuries, and disabilities. They work with patients to help them regain function and quality of life by using a combination of treatments, including medication, physical therapy, and acupuncture, to help their patients improve their quality of life.
Physiatrists work with other healthcare professionals like orthopedic surgeons, neurologists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, and speech-language pathologists, to create individualized treatment plans for patients.
Orthopedic surgeon— specializes in the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of diseases, injuries, and disorders of the musculoskeletal system. This includes bones, joints, muscles, tendons, nerves, ligaments, and cartilage. They may also use surgery, physical therapy, and other treatments to help restore mobility and reduce pain.
Orthopedic specialist — specializes in the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of diseases, injuries, and disorders of the musculoskeletal system. An orthopedic specialist assess, diagnose, and treat your orthopedic ailment using non invasive treatments. They also provide preventive care, such as advice on exercise and nutrition, to help patients maintain healthy bones and joints.
Orthopedists often work closely with physical therapists and other medical specialists to provide comprehensive care for their patients. Some orthopedists may also specialize in specific areas such as sports medicine, pediatric orthopedics, hand surgery, or joint replacement.
Pulmonologist — specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of lung diseases. Pulmonologists are also sometimes referred to as pulmonary physicians. Some of the conditions that pulmonologists treat include asthma, COPD, lung cancer, and sleep disorders. Pulmonologists use a variety of diagnostic techniques to evaluate patients, including chest x-rays, CT scans, and lung function tests. They also often perform bronchoscopies, and lung biopsies.
Gerontologist — specializes in the study of aging and the treatment of age-related conditions. Gerontologists work with patients of all ages, from young adults to seniors. Gerontologists help older adults cope with the physical, mental, and emotional changes that come with age. They are often involved in research on aging and age-related diseases, as well as the development of new treatments for these conditions.
Gerontologists may also work as consultants, providing advice and guidance to individuals and families dealing with aging-related issues. They also work to improve the lives of older adults. Gerontologists often work closely with other health care professionals, such as doctors, nurses, and social workers, to provide comprehensive care for older adults.
Neurologist — specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of disorders of the nervous system. This includes the brain, the spinal cord, and the nerves that connect them. Neurologists use a variety of diagnostic tools to assess a patient’s condition, including brain imaging, electrical tests, and nerve conduction studies.
Some common tests and procedures used by neurologists include brain imaging, electromyography (EMG), nerve conduction studies, and lumbar puncture (LP). They often work closely with other specialists, such as neurosurgeons, to provide comprehensive care for patients with complex neurological conditions. Treatment options for neurological conditions vary depending on the specific condition, but may include medication, surgery, or rehabilitation.
Dentist — specializes in the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of oral diseases and conditions. Dentists are also responsible for providing education and guidance on oral hygiene to their patients. Dentists use a variety of tools and techniques to provide care for their patients. They may perform routine teeth cleanings, fill cavities, extract teeth, place crowns or bridges, or straighten teeth. Dentists may also provide more specialized services such as orthodontics, periodontics, or oral surgery.
Allergist —also known as immunologists, specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of allergies and asthma. They use a variety of methods to diagnose allergies, including skin prick tests, blood tests and elimination diets. Allergists also work with patients to develop treatment plans that may include avoidance of allergens, medication or immunotherapy.
Allergists are trained to identify the substances that trigger an allergic reaction and to provide patients with the best possible care. Allergies can be caused by a variety of things, including pollen, dust, certain foods, and pet dander. Allergists typically treat patients of all ages, from infants to adults. They may also provide care for people with chronic conditions such as eczema or food allergies.
Obstetrician — also known as OB-GYNs, specializes in pregnancy, childbirth, and the postpartum period. Obstetricians provide care for both the mother and the baby during pregnancy, and they are trained to handle any complications that may arise during labor and delivery. This includes offering advice on breastfeeding, nutrition, and child-rearing. They also provide care for the mother and baby during the postpartum period.
Urologist — specializes in the urinary tract and the male reproductive system. This includes the kidneys, bladder, urethra, and prostate. Urologists also treat conditions of the testicles and penis. Some conditions they treat are urinary incontinence, urinary tract infections, and erectile dysfunction. They also perform surgeries such as vasectomies and prostatectomies.
Podiatrist — specializes in the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of foot, ankle, and lower-leg disorders. Podiatrists are trained to diagnose and treat a wide range of conditions like ingrown toenails, foot fractures, plantar fasciitis, foot ulcers, bunions, heel spurs, and arthritis. They are also well-versed in the use of therapeutic modalities, such as ultrasound and electrical stimulation. They also provide preventive care, such as recommending foot exercises, foot hygiene, and footwear. In addition to treating medical conditions, podiatrists often work with athletes and other active individuals to improve their performance and reduce the risk of injury.
Medical Geneticist — specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of genetic disorders. Medical geneticists work with individuals and families to diagnose, manage with personalized treatment plans, and prevent genetic diseases. They use a variety of techniques to identify genetic disorders, including genetic testing, physical examinations, family histories, and genetic counseling.
Medical geneticists also research the causes and treatments for genetic diseases, as well as develop new treatments for them. The field of medical genetics is constantly evolving, so medical geneticists must keep up with the latest developments in order to provide the best care for their patients.
Movement disorder specialist — specializes in diagnosing and treating disorders that affect a person’s ability to move as well as posture and the ability to balance. These disorders can include conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, essential tremor, dystonia, functional neurological disorder, cerebral palsy, Tourette syndrome, and other neuromuscular disorders. Movement disorder specialists are trained in both neurology and psychiatry, and they are experts in evaluating the physical and psychological aspects of movement disorders.
They use a variety of techniques to diagnose a patient’s condition, including clinical examinations, laboratory tests, and imaging studies. Once a diagnosis is made, the movement disorder specialist will work with the patient to develop a treatment plan. This may include medications, physical or occupational therapy, lifestyle changes, or surgery. It is important to find an experienced and knowledgeable movement disorder specialist to ensure the best possible treatment for your condition.
Dietitian — specializes in the science of food and nutrition. They are experts in using evidence-based advice to help people develop healthy eating habits that are tailored to their individual needs and lifestyle. Dietitians have a deep understanding of the science that underpins food and nutrition, and how it relates to health and wellbeing. They assess and diagnose nutritional deficiencies, create individualized meal plans, and teach clients how to make healthy food choices.
Dietitians often work with medical professionals to develop diet plans for patients with specific medical needs. Dietitians often work with medical professionals to develop diet plans for patients with specific medical needs such as Diabetes, heart disease, and gastro disorders. Dietitians also provide counseling on other aspects of health, such as physical activity and weight management. They work with individuals, families, schools, and businesses to ensure that everyone has access to the information they need to make healthy choices.
Psychiatrist — specializes in diagnosing and treating mental health conditions. Psychiatrists are experts in the biological, psychological, and social aspects of mental health and are uniquely qualified to assess both the mental and physical aspects of psychiatric illnesses. Psychiatrists are trained to assess and evaluate people’s mental health and to provide treatment for a range of mental health problems, including depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia.
They use a combination of medication and psychotherapy (talk therapy) to help patients manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life. They may also provide counseling and medication management that address the patient’s physical, psychological, and social needs. They often work in close collaboration with other health care professionals such as psychologists, social workers, and primary care physicians in order to provide comprehensive care for their patients.
Psychologist — specializes in the study of the mind and behavior. They are skilled in observing, analyzing and interpreting behavior, and they use this knowledge to help people understand and improve their mental health. Psychologists work with people to help them understand their behavior, emotions, and relationships better. They use a variety of techniques, such as psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and hypnosis to diagnose and treat mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, and trauma.
Psychologists may work with individuals, couples, families or groups, providing therapy, counseling and assessment services. Depending on their qualifications like clinical psychology, counseling psychology, school psychology, developmental psychology, and forensic psychology, psychologists may also provide more specialized services such as neuropsychological testing, forensic evaluation and psychotherapy.
Therapist — is a mental health professional who helps individuals, couples, and families understand and manage their emotions and behaviors in order to improve their lives. Many therapists specialize in a particular area, such as child or adolescent therapy, couples counseling, or substance abuse treatment. They use evidence-based techniques such as cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, and more to help people identify and work through their issues.
Therapy usually involves talking with a therapist, who helps their clients explore their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, and it can be done in individual, group, or family sessions. A therapist will ask questions, listen to the client’s responses, and provide guidance on how to make positive changes. The therapist-client relationship is based on trust and respect, and therapists strive to create a safe, non-judgmental environment for their clients. Therapists may also use techniques such as cognitive behavioral therapy, mindfulness meditation, or even art therapy. Therapy is often used to treat depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues, but it can also provide guidance on how to make positive changes in one’s life, and how to cope with difficult situations.
Licensed Clinical Social worker — (LCSW) mental health professional who has been trained in the principles of social work and is licensed to provide services to individuals, families, and communities. LCSWs are trained to help people cope with a variety of mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. They provide individual, couples and family therapy, as well as crisis intervention and case management services. LCSWs are qualified to diagnose and treat mental health disorders and provide therapy to individuals and groups, and may provide addiction treatment and psychoeducational services.
Hepatologist — specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases and disorders of the liver, gallbladder, biliary tree, and pancreas. Hepatologists are experts in the diagnosis and management of conditions such as hepatitis, cirrhosis, fatty liver disease, hemochromatosis, and other liver-related diseases. They are also knowledgeable about the medical treatments, dietary changes, and lifestyle modifications that can often help improve the health of those suffering from liver-related conditions. They often work closely with other specialists such as gastroenterologists and radiologists to coordinate diagnosis and treatment for patients. In addition to treating patients, hepatologists often conduct research to further our understanding of liver diseases and how to best treat them.
Neuropsychologist — is a specialist who studies how the brain and nervous system affect behavior and mental processes. They are considered to be mental health professionals as well who specialize in the study of the brain and its connection to behavior and cognition. Neuropsychologists use a variety of methods to diagnose, assess, and treat individuals with cognitive, emotional, or behavioral disorders like autism, dementia, traumatic brain injury, learning disabilities, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
They use neurological tests, psychological assessments to measure cognitive abilities like memory, language, attention, and problem-solving, and brain imaging to better understand how the brain works and how it affects behavior. They may also help those with mood and anxiety disorders, as well as those dealing with substance abuse or learning disabilities. In addition to providing therapy and treatment, they also work with patients and their families to develop strategies for managing symptoms and improving overall functioning.
Cardiologist — specializes in diagnosing and treating diseases of the heart and blood vessels. Cardiologists are experts in the diagnosis and treatment of a wide range of heart-related conditions, including coronary artery disease, heart failure, arrhythmias, and valvular heart disease. They are typically responsible for interpreting diagnostic tests such as electrocardiograms (EKGs) and echocardiograms (ultrasounds of the heart), stress tests, prescribing medications, recommending lifestyle modifications, and performing procedures such as angioplasty and cardiac catheterization.
They also receive training in performing invasive procedures such as angioplasty, stenting, and coronary artery bypass surgery. In addition, cardiologists may specialize in treating certain types of cardiac conditions such as congenital heart defects, sports-related cardiology, electrophysiology, pediatric cardiology, adult congenital cardiology, interventional cardiology, and advanced heart failure.
Ophthalmologists — specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of eye disorders. Ophthalmologists are trained to perform eye exams, diagnose and treat eye diseases like glaucoma, cataracts and macular degeneration, prescribe medications, eyeglasses and perform surgery. They also provide guidance on how to maintain healthy vision and prevent vision problems.
Dermatologist — specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of conditions affecting the skin, hair, and nails. They are able to diagnose and treat a wide range of conditions, from acne and eczema to skin cancer and psoriasis. Dermatologists also provide guidance on how to protect the skin from the sun and other environmental hazards.
Gynecologist— specializes in treating the female reproductive system. This includes the vagina, uterus, ovaries, and fallopian tubes. They can provide routine care, such as Pap smears, STD Testing , and pelvic exams, as well as more specialized care for problems like endometriosis, menopause and infertility.
Gastroenterologist — specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the digestive system, including the esophagus, stomach and intestines. The gastroenterologist diagnoses, treats and manages diseases that affect your stomach, small intestine (duodenum), large intestine (colon), biliary tract (gallbladder), liver, pancreas and other organs of the gastrointestinal (GI) system.
ENT (ear, nose, and throat) /Otolaryngologist — specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of conditions affecting the ears, nose, and throat. ENTs are often able to treat conditions with medication or surgery. Some common conditions that ENTs treat include allergies, sinus infections, hearing loss, and sleep apnea. They also treat conditions that affect the voice, such as laryngitis and vocal cord nodules.
Hematologist — specializes in diagnosising and treating blood disorders. Hematologists are experts in blood cell development and function, and they use this knowledge to diagnose and treat a wide range of blood disorders, including anemia, leukemia, and lymphoma. Hematologists also play a vital role in the treatment of patients with bleeding disorders, such as hemophilia. In addition to diagnosing and treating blood disorders, hematologists also conduct research to improve our understanding of these conditions and to develop new and better treatments.
Oncologist — specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. Oncologists use a variety of treatments, including surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and immunotherapy, to fight cancer. They also work with other healthcare professionals, such as primary care doctors, nurses, and social workers, to provide comprehensive care for their patients, manage the side effects of cancer treatment and to provide emotional support.
Sleep specialist (Somnologist)— specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of sleep disorders. They diagnose and treat sleep disorders, such as insomnia, sleep apnea, and narcolepsy. Sleep specialists also work with people who have difficulty staying awake during the day due to shift work or other factors. In addition to their medical training, sleep specialists often have special training in behavioral therapy, which can help patients change their sleep habits.
Naturopathic physicians (N.D.) specializes in the treatment of diseases and disorders using natural therapies. These therapies may include botanical medicine, nutrition, acupuncture, and homeopathy. Naturopathic physicians are trained in both conventional and alternative medicines, and they use a variety of modalities to treat their patients. They take a holistic approach to health care that focuses on treating the whole person rather than just one part of the body or mind. They also focus on prevention and encourage patients to make lifestyle changes that will promote health and well-being.
What else can I do?
Nothing should be left to chance when it comes to choosing the right doctor, so if you’ve found one but still feel unheard or not confident in the information they provide, seek out another opinion from a different doctor or request a test.
For instance, if you’re in pain and have tried physical therapy but it hasn’t helped, request an MRI or X-ray. Or if you’ve searched online and found no cures, remedies or solutions to your problems and you have additional concerns and questions about your diagnosis or lack of a diagnosis, request a test.
Blood tests, vitamin deficiency testing, minerals, hormones, and neurotransmitters test can all be requested from your doctor or purchased independently. These tests can be found by Googling for terms like “at home health test” or using a specific term such as “at home Vitamin B12 test.” This is advantageous for everyone, particularly those whose insurance does not cover the costs of tests. Quality labs evaluate at-home tests, and depending on the brand you purchased, some even offer you to be treated by a doctor.
In general, most of these specialist fields require a referral from your primary care physician in order to schedule an appointment with them. We believe that accurately explaining medical knowledge will better equip people to take care of their health problems or avoid getting stuck in dead ends and becoming discouraged with trying to get help.
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