Internal medicine or general medicine (in Commonwealth nations) is the medical specialty dealing with the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of adult diseases. Physicians specializing in internal medicine are called internists, or physicians (without a modifier) in Commonwealth nations. Internists are skilled in the management of patients who have undifferentiated or multi-system disease processes. Internists care for hospitalized and ambulatory patients and may play a major role in teaching and research. Internists often have subspecialty interests in diseases affecting particular organs or organ systems. Internists can choose to focus their practice on general internal medicine or take additional training to "subspecialize" in additional areas of internal medicine.
The subspecialties of internal medicine that internists can subspecialize include:
1. Pulmonology: Pulmonologists are lung doctors that focus on conditions like asthma and emphysema/chronic bronchitis (also called COPD). Interestingly, they are also experts in sleeping problems (often sleeping problems are related to breathing) with one of their significant focuses being a condition called sleep apnea.
2. Endocrinology: Endocrinologists are hormone and gland doctors. These doctors focus on diseases of the thyroid gland (either over or under-active thyroid), diabetes and other hormone conditions. Diabetes can be confusing because most people with diabetes see their PCP, but there are instances where it may be preferable to see an endocrinologist for diabetes.
3. Cardiology: Cardiologists are heart and blood vessel doctors. These doctors focus on preventing heart attacks and treating patients who have had heart attacks. They also see patients that have a condition called Congestive Heart Failure (or CHF), where the heart does not pump as strong as it should and as a result, patients with CHF tend to retain fluid in their legs and lungs.
4. Gastroenterology: Gastroenterologists are doctors of the digestive system (esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, pancreas, and liver). Gastroenterologist is a rather long word, so it is often just abbreviated as GI doctor (for ‘Gastro-Intestinal’ doctor). They see patients who have problems with severe or chronic heartburn, indigestion, stomach pain, chronic diarrhea or constipation and a condition called irritable bowel syndrome.
5. Hepatology: Hepatologists exclusively focus on the liver. While GI doctors can also see patients with liver problems, Hepatologists typically see patients that have chronic or severe liver conditions. These conditions include Hepatitis A, B or C or people who have liver failure and may need a liver transplant.
6. Hematology/Oncology: Hematologist/Oncologists see patients with blood disorders and cancer. These two sub-specialties are often combined, and Hematologist/Oncologists will usually see patients with blood disorders like anemia (low blood count) or cancer – such as breast, lung, and colon. These doctors are not surgeons. If a cancerous tumor needs to be surgically removed, this type of doctor will not perform the surgery. If required, the Hematologist/Oncologist will typically administer the chemotherapy to treat cancer. Often people with cancer see multiple types of doctors, and the Hematologist/Oncologist is just one of them.
7. Nephrology: Nephrologists are kidney doctors. They treat patients that have partial kidney damage (referred to as renal insufficiency) and kidney failure. When a person has kidney failure, they may require dialysis to control the electrolytes (sodium, potassium, and calcium), water and waste products in their bodies. Nephrologists are the doctors that manage the dialysis. Another type of kidney doctor is a Urologist, but this specialty is not part of Internal Medicine, and they treat different types of kidney problems—such as kidney stones.
8. Rheumatology: Rheumatologists treat conditions called ‘Autoimmune Diseases.’ An autoimmune disease is when the body’s immune system attacks itself instead of an outside bacteria or virus. Examples of autoimmune diseases are rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. Autoimmune diseases often cause pain and swelling in the joints, so rheumatologists are also joint experts and treat various joint conditions (e.g., gout). However, rheumatologists are not surgeons, and they typically do not see patients that have joint injuries from sports or overuse—Orthopedic Surgeons usually see those types of patients.
9. Allergy/Immunology: Allergist/Immunologists perform allergy testing to see what substances or foods a person may be allergic to (e.g., pollen, mold, nuts). They administer allergy shots to desensitize a person to those substances, making their allergies less severe. They can also treat immune deficiency conditions. These are rare conditions where the body’s immune system is under-functioning.
10. Infectious Disease: Infectious Disease doctors treat chronic and severe infections. Common infections that these doctors treat are HIV/AIDS, bone infections and severe skin infections. Fortunately, most infections that people have are short-lived, mild and are usually handled by their primary care physician—not an Infectious Disease doctor (e.g., strep throat, sinus infection).
11. Geriatrics: Geriatricians are doctors for the elderly. There is not a specific age where a person should start seeing a geriatrician, but these doctors typically see patients that are age 80 and above. They specialize in helping people with dementia (Alzheimer’s and other types) maintain their quality of life and are good at coordinating the many medications that the elderly take—preventing drug interactions and minimizing side-effects. Geriatricians may visit nursing homes to see their patients or even make house calls.
Welcome to the Department of Internal Medicine. Internal Medicine physicians reflect a wide range of specialties and have advanced medical training, extensive clinical and research experience, and technological expertise. Because internal medicine patients are often seriously ill or require complex investigations, internists do much of their work in hospitals. Multidisciplinary teams of specialists from internal medicine interact across the discipline to provide comprehensive care and collaborate on cutting-edge research.
General internists are equipped to handle the broad and comprehensive spectrum of illnesses that affect adults, and are recognized as experts in diagnosis, in treatment of chronic illness, and in health promotion and disease prevention—they are not limited to one type of medical problem or organ system. General internists are equipped to deal with whatever problem a patient brings—no matter how common or rare, or how simple or complex. They are specially trained to solve puzzling diagnostic problems and can handle severe chronic illnesses and situations where several different illnesses may strike at the same time. They are not surgeons. They do not perform operations. They listen to patient histories, perform physical exams, make a diagnosis and often prescribe medications to treat a condition or disease. They often treat aches and pains, sore throats, colds and allergies, high blood pressure, diabetes, indigestion, perform annual physical exams and coordinate some preventive screenings. Our physicians at IMTU are dedicated to the compassionate practice of medicine — a continuum of care that extends from preventive medicine to acute care to palliative care throughout an illness.
The department is mainly involved in teaching International Medicine course to MBBS students starting from 3rd year of study until completion of studies in the 5th year. The students are required to do both junior and senior clinical rotations (Clerkship) in fulfillment of the programme. The department also admits MMed students (a 3 years programme) in Internal Medicine. The department of Internal Medicine provides consultancy services for patients at the IMTU hospital.