Internal Medicine

Internal medicine is the practice of treating the whole person, rather than only symptoms and is a comprehensive treatment often dealing with disease of the internal organs and an attempt to cure non-surgically. Internal medicine looks at the overall lifestyle, nutrition habits, family history and possible risk factors of an individual and may use nutrition and exercise modifications, coupled with medical treatment, as a way of preventing and combating serious illness.

Those who practice internal medicine are often referred to as “internists” and have completed three years of internal medicine training in addition to acquiring their medical degree. General internists treat patients for ongoing wellness, minor illness and serious disease. Many adults use an internist as their primary care physician due to the overall holistic and integrative health care provided. However, some doctors specialize in a sub-field of internal medicine, which often deals solely with one of the major organs or body functions. For instance, cardiologists are internists who treat the heart while endocrinologists are specially trained in the body’s glands and hormones and treat diseases related to their malfunction. Internists are often consulted by other doctors for help with particularly puzzling cases as this is where their specialized talents lie.

Internal medicine originated as a discipline in the late 19th Century. Its name is of German origins and means putting lab research to practice in caring for individual patients. With the advent of advanced medical technology, internists now have an array of research and diagnostic tools at their disposal which are less invasive and may therefore be performed by the internist rather than requiring a surgeon. For instance, the use of tiny cameras allows for various procedures such as a colonoscopy to inspect the colon or an endoscopy which views the lining of the digestive tract and can help with the diagnosis of various gastrointestinal disorders. Having less evasive procedures to work with, many treatments done by an internist can be done non-surgically and with relative ease by the patient. Additionally, given the very nature of internal medicine, some better nutrition and exercise habits may need to be incorporated into the overall treatment plan.

Internal medicine offers a holistic and integrative approach to the treatment and prevention of serious illness.

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