WellStar infectious disease physicians are board-certified internal medicine and infectious disease specialists.
An infectious disease (ID) specialist is a doctor of internal medicine or pediatrics who is an expert in the diagnosis and treatment of infectious diseases. ID specialists handle infections of the sinuses, heart, brain, lungs, urinary tract, bowel, bones, skin, and pelvic organs. These infections may be caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi, or parasites. Some ID physicians specialize in treating patients with infections due to human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the cause of AIDS.
Infectious disease specialists are experienced in the use of antibiotics to combat infection, as well as their potential adverse effects. ID specialists study immunology (how the body fights infection), epidemiology (how infections spread) and infection control.
When an infection is suspected, an ID specialist reviews a patient's medical record and lab reports, and may conduct a physical examination and order laboratory work, like blood tests for antibodies indicating the presence of disease, and cultures of wounds or bodily fluids. They also counsel healthy people who plan travel to places where there is an increased risk of infection.
Infectious disease specialists are limited to diagnosis and medical treatment. They do not perform surgery.
Not everyone who has an infection needs an ID specialist. A general internist can take care of most infections, but, sometimes, specialized expertise is needed to diagnose or manage specific infectious diseases.
When an infection is potentially serious, may be unfamiliar because of general or local rarity, or when there are problems with treatment, an ID specialist is often consulted. If you are hospitalized for an infection, or get an infection when hospitalized, your ID specialist will follow your case and help direct your care. In some cases, they will continue to see you after you are discharged from the hospital.
After your infection has subsided, you will usually be asked to return to the ID specialist for a follow-up visit to review test results and to be sure that your infection has been eliminated. ID specialists may wish to follow up with you until they feel confident that the infection will not recur, at which point you may resume or continue care with your regular physician.