We have come a long way since the days where doctors believed a few leeches, carefully applied to the body, could cure just about any ailment. We may not yet understand all the intricacies of how our bodies work and the diseases that threaten us but the medical community now has a pretty good idea of how complicated it all really is. Doctors spend years specializing in just one small, or not so small, part of the body or ailment. And for this we are grateful. But who can keep track of it all?
Do you need to visit your cardiologist, dermatologist, paediatrician or neurologist? What does it mean when your GP (General Practitioner by the way) sends you off to see the pulmonologist?
Well here is your quick guide to the lesser known medical specialist:
Cardiologist: This is the specialist who deals with matters of the heart: that is the physical muscle that sits inside your chest and pumps blood through your body.
Dermatologist: As a dermatologist will tell you, “Skin, skin what a wonderful thing; keeps the outsides out and the insides in”. This doctor specializes in all matters of the skin.
Occupational Medicine Practitioner: This is not a well known branch of medicine, but it really should be. Your occupational practitioner is the one you call when work and disease meet. Are you worried about the chemicals you may be breathing in at work? Have a chronic cough that goes away when you take leave, or perhaps you hurt your shoulder in an old sports injury and can’t perform the task your boss needs you to do. Your occupational medical practitioner specialises in diseases caused by the workplace, and decides when diseases should keep you out of the workplace.
Neurologist: Contrary to popular belief this is not necessarily a brain specialist. A neurologist treats disorders of the nervous system. That includes diseases of the brain, spinal cord, nerves and muscles.
Gastroenterologist: This is the doctor you call when your digestive system is not working as it should be. This specialist deals specifically with diseases of the digestive tract, in other words, the path your food takes in and out of your body.
Rheumatologist: As the name suggests a rheumatologist specializes in rheumatic diseases, like rheumatoid arthritis. This is, in short, diseases that affect the joints, muscles and bones.
Pulmonologist or Pulmonary Specialist: Having trouble breathing? Then a pulmonologist is the doctor for you. This doctor specializes in diseases of the lungs.
This is really only the tip of the iceberg in terms of medical specializations, but fortunately, as the patient you do not need to know them all. The best process to follow if things are not working quite as they should be in any part of your body, is to first visit your GP. He or she will then assess the situation, and if need be, send you off to the right expert.
Which medical specialist would you like to know more about? Leave a comment below.