What is an Infectious Disease Specialist?
Many common infections can be treated by your personal physician.
Your doctor might refer you to an ID specialist when
In all of these cases, the specialized training and diagnostic tools of the ID specialist can help determine the cause of your infection and the best approach to treatment.
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ID specialists review your medical data, including X-rays and laboratory reports such as blood work and culture data. They also may perform a physical exam to help determine the cause of the problem.
TestsID specialists often order laboratory tests to examine samples of blood or other body f luids or cultures from wounds. A blood serum analysis can help the ID specialist detect antibodies that indicate what type of infection you have. These advanced tests can further explain the results of earlier tests, helping to pinpoint the problem.
TreatmentsTreatments consist of medicines—usually antibiotics—to help battle the infection and prevent it from returning. These medicines may be given to you orally (in the form of pills or liquids) or administered directly into your veins, via an IV tube. Many ID specialists have IV antibiotic therapy available in their offices, which decreases the likelihood that you will need to be hospitalized.
An ID specialist may also recommend a vaccination regimen for you and your children. One of the best strategies for preventing infectious diseases is immunization.
Ask your doctor for advice about other things you and your family can do to prevent infectious diseases.
Your ID Physician has 9-10 years of specialized education and training.
Most ID specialists who treat patients also are board certified. They have passed a difficult certification examination by the American Board of Internal Medicine in both internal medicine and infectious diseases.
The ID specialist works with your personal physician to determine which diagnostic tests are appropriate. If treatment is necessary, your doctor and the ID specialist will work together to develop a treatment plan best suited to your needs.
Often you will be asked to return to the ID specialist for a follow-up visit. This allows the specialist to check on your progress, confirm that the infection is gone and help prevent it from coming back. If you acquire an infection while in the hospital, the ID specialist will work with other hospital physicians to help direct your care.
The specialist also might provide follow-up care after you go home.
If your ID specialist is also your personal physician, he or she will coordinate your care, referring you to other specialists when necessary.
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