Internal medicine is the branch of healthcare that focuses on keeping adults healthy. A physician of internal medicine, called an internist, is dedicated to the health and wellbeing of adults. In many ways, you can think of an internist as your primary doctor.
As a patient, you’re likely to see an internist for yearly checkups, vaccinations, or when you’re feeling ill and have acute symptoms. Often, internal medicine providers will be able to solve health challenges immediately; in other cases, an internist may refer you to a specialist.
For most people, your internist will be your primary healthcare provider.
Internal Medicine vs. Family Doctor
Many patients wonder whether an internist is the same thing as a family doctor or general practitioner. From the practical perspective of patients, these two fields are so similar that they may as well be one. But there are some subtle differences:
- A focus on adult care: An internist will focus only on adult patients. A family doctor will be able to treat teens, toddlers, and everything in between.
- Lab work: Internists are specially trained to incorporate lab work into their medical practice. This means your internist will be able to quickly run tests (such as blood work) and use the results to help guide your care.
What Does Internal Medicine Cover?
Internal medicine is a healthcare specialty that offers comprehensive care for adults. Everything you might think of as something you’d see a “family doctor” for is something you’d also see your internist for.
In general, you can see your internist for the following reasons:
- Routine care for adults
- Well checks or annual exams
- Preventative screenings and vaccinations
- Diagnose chronic conditions
- Manage multiple chronic conditions
- Cholesterol screening and treatment
- Men’s health screenings and care
- Women’s health screenings and care
Day to Day Wellness
Every person is going to have individualized and unique day-to-day healthcare concerns. Your internist will help you achieve better everyday wellness with the following approaches:
- Annual visits: During your yearly wellness visit, you’ll be able to discuss habits, health, and diet with your provider. This can help you embrace a healthier lifestyle and improve your long-term outcomes.
- Lab tests: At the same time, annual lab tests can help inform these discussions. Your internist will test for things as varied as cholesterol to vitamin D levels. These labs may indicate early problems that could benefit from management or give you peace of mind that everything’s looking good.
- Managing conditions: If you have pre-existing health conditions, your internist will help you manage those as well. This could include anything from asthma and diabetes to high blood pressure and thyroid disease. Ensuring you manage these conditions can help you improve your overall wellness.
There is much your internist can do to help prevent you from becoming ill in the first place. Some of that preventive care will include the following:
- Vaccinations and immunizations: Vaccines are one of the most powerful and potent medical therapies ever invented–because they can prevent you from getting sick. While we mostly think of vaccinations as an event from childhood, the reality is that you need vaccines as an adult, including for influenza (the so-called Flu Shot) and COVID-19.
- Diet and lifestyle: As with your wellness visits, preventative care will sometimes touch on ways to manage your diet and lifestyle to optimize your health. This could include changing your diet to help manage cardiovascular disease or diabetes, for example.
Your internist will also be able to provide acute care for non-emergency illnesses. This could include diagnosing an illness and prescribing the appropriate medications or therapies, where warranted. For example, if you develop a case of strep throat, influenza, or mild bacterial pneumonia, your internist would be able to prescribe medication to help you feel better faster.
What Does an Internist Treat – At a Glance
You can see your internist for the following conditions:
- Cold and flu
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Thyroid disease
- Gastrointestinal issues
- Vascular disease
- And more
Start Seeing Your Doctor Today
For most people, your internist will quickly become “your doctor.” At YMC, our internists make it a point to listen to our patients; we’re here to help you feel and live healthier. As your primary healthcare provider, YMC internists can help you get the screenings you need, treat the symptoms that may crop up when you’re ill, and keep your wellness on track.
Contact YMC today to schedule an appointment with an internist today.
For appointments: (605) 665-1082
Susan E. Fanta, M.D. – Board Certified
Tyler L. Hanson, M.D. – Board Certified
For appointments: (605) 665-1152
Martha Holstein, M.D. – Board Certified
Daniel J. Megard, M.D., FACP – Board Certified
Amanda K. Sedlacek, D.O. – Board Certified
Melissa Fullner-Marshall, MPAS, PA-C
Click here for Internal Medicine appointments in Norfolk NE.
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