Infectious diseases have always been a major public health concern, and the recent COVID-19 pandemic has only highlighted their importance. As they say, prevention is better than cure, but sometimes infections are unavoidable.
In such cases, it is important to consult a doctor who can diagnose and manage the infection. Internists, also known as internal medicine doctors, play a critical role in managing infectious diseases.
Let’s discuss infectious diseases and how internists can help manage infections.
What are Infectious Diseases?
Infectious diseases are disorders caused by organisms such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, or parasites. They can range from common illnesses like the flu to more severe conditions like HIV/AIDS or Ebola.
Some infections can be passed from person to person, while others are acquired by ingesting contaminated food or water or bites from insects or animals.
The Role of Internists
Internists are doctors who specialize in internal medicine. They take care of adult patients, from young adults to the elderly. They understand, diagnose, and treat many diseases affecting the body’s internal systems.
Internal medicine doctors are often the first line of defense against infectious diseases. They are trained to understand how different diseases affect various body parts and can recognize the subtle signs of infection that others might miss.
Internists use this expertise to diagnose and manage infections, ensuring patients receive the most appropriate treatment.
Diagnosis of infections
When it comes to managing infections, the first step is accurate diagnosis. Internists are trained to diagnose and treat a wide range of diseases, including infectious diseases.
They are trained to look for signs and symptoms of infections, review medical history, and order appropriate lab tests to confirm the diagnosis. Often, internal medicine doctorsare the first point of contact for patients who present with vague symptoms that could be due to an infection.
Treatment of infections
Once a diagnosis of an infection is confirmed by an internist, the next step in patient care is to initiate treatment. This involves carefully selecting and administering the right medicines to combat the infection.
Internists are well-trained in this aspect, possessing comprehensive knowledge about antimicrobial agents – these are medications designed to kill or slow down the growth of harmful microorganisms like bacteria, viruses, fungi, or parasites that cause infections.
The selection of an appropriate antimicrobial agent is a critical decision, and it’s based on several factors. These may include the type of microorganism causing the infection, the severity and location of the infection, the patient’s overall health status and any potential allergies, as well as the potential side effects of the medication.
Prevention of infections
While internal medicine doctors are trained to manage infections, they also play a crucial role in preventing infections.
One of the key ways internists help prevent infections is through patient education. They explain to patients how infections spread and how they can protect themselves and others.
For instance, they emphasize the importance of hand hygiene, as hands often act as vehicles transferring harmful microbes from surfaces to the body. They may demonstrate proper hand-washing techniques and recommend using hand sanitizers, particularly when soap and water are not readily available.
Vaccination is another crucial area where internal medicine doctors contribute to infection prevention. Vaccines are one of the most effective tools for preventing infectious diseases.
Internists inform patients about the vaccines they need based on factors such as age, health status, travel plans, and vaccination history. They explain how vaccines work, discuss their benefits and potential side effects, and administer them as needed.
Management Of Complications
In some cases, infections can lead to complications, such as sepsis (a life-threatening condition caused by infections), pneumonia, and meningitis.
Internal medicine doctors are trained to manage these complications and provide supportive care to patients, including fluid resuscitation, oxygen therapy, and management of organ failure.
Collaboration in Healthcare
It’s important to note that internists often collaborate with other healthcare professionals. For complex cases, such as antibiotic-resistant infections or novel viruses, internists may consult infectious disease specialists to ensure the patient receives the best care.
Internal Medicine Doctor in Tucson, AZ
If you are looking for an outstanding and exceptionally skilled internal medicine doctor in Tucson, AZ, consider visiting our Dr. Robert E. Lending.
Dr. Lending is a knowledgeable and compassionate concierge medicine doctor who has dedicated his professional career to serving the specialized healthcare needs of adults. From common infections to complex diseases, he brings extensive experience to help ensure your health and well-being. For your convenience, we also perform blood tests right in our office.