From newborns to the elderly, a family doctor offers ongoing, integrated care to people of all ages. They diagnose and treat a wide range of concerns that affect physical and behavioral health across an individual’s lifespan. In the event of referral to an outside medical provider, a family physician remains the care coordinator.
Family Medicine for Primary Care
Family physicians focus on continuity of care for the whole person, with an emphasis on disease prevention and health promotion. Their training includes elements of internal medicine, pediatrics, emergency medicine, surgery, psychiatry and geriatrics. This comprehensive background makes selecting a family medicine doctor for your primary care physician a good choice. In addition to performing physical exams and diagnostic imaging, family medicine treats common medical concerns including:
A family physician can treat non-emergency illness and injuries, including:
- Abdominal pain and gastrointestinal distress can range from a mild stomachache to cramping or sharp pain, and may include diarrhea or vomiting. There are a wide range of causes for stomach pain. Among the most common are indigestion, stomach virus, constipation, food poisoning or menstrual cramps. In some cases, abdominal issues may also be a symptom of a more serious health concern.
- Sprains, strains, bumps, cuts and bruises benefit from thorough evaluation and treatment. Sprained ligaments or related sports injuries can be painful and cause significant swelling. Cuts and lacerations require proper wound care and stitches to prevent infection.
- Cough, flu, fever, and sore throat are among the most common reasons for visits to the doctor’s office. Cold and flus are caused by bacteria or viruses. Although symptoms can cause discomfort and pain, medical treatment can help manage the symptoms to reduce fever, soothe a sore throat and reduce coughing.
- Ear infections are caused by viruses and bacteria. They most commonly occur in children but can also affect adults. Ear pain, fever, loss of hearing or fluid leaking from the ear may be symptoms of an ear infection.
- Urinary tract infections (UTI) are infections in the bladder or kidneys. Pain and burning during urination and an increased need to urinate are symptoms of UTIs.
Ongoing medical conditions require continued medical care. Family medicine provides treatment for commonly seen chronic conditions:
- Allergies are very common and can come in a number of forms. Allergy symptoms can include itchy eyes, runny nose, skin irritation, upset stomach or breathing and swallowing problems.
- Anxiety and depression affect a person’s physical and emotional wellbeing. Anxiety describes a heightened sense of nervousness and can interfere with daily life. Depression is characterized by prolonged feelings of sadness, lethargy and lack of interest in life. Both anxiety and depression can occur on their own or may be associated with other health concerns.
- Asthma affects the lungs and makes it difficult to breathe. It can affect children or adults and may be intermittent or lifelong. Left untreated, asthma can be serious or fatal.
- Diabetes is a disease caused by the body’s inability to produce enough insulin to properly manage blood sugar levels. People with diabetes have impaired insulin production, which can cause serious health complications or may be fatal. The most common types of diabetes are Type I and Type II.
- Heart health concerns, including heart disease, can be advised and managed with care from a family doctor as your primary care physician.
- Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, is a long-term medical condition. Blood pressure describes the force of blood against the walls of the blood vessels as it pumps through the body. Hypertension occurs when the force is higher than normal, and over time this pressure can damage the blood vessels. Treatment and medical management of hypertension can help to prevent against stroke, heart attack, heart failure or kidney disease.
Conducting physical exams is one of the most common roles performed by a family doctor. These comprehensive medical evaluations include routine preventive physicals, sports physicals and Medicare wellness visits. These check-ups focus on preventive health care and can address potential health concerns. A sports physical is also known as a pre-participation physical exam (PPE) and is conducted on children and teens before they start a new sport or begin a new competitive season.
Gynecological care treats female reproductive health, including cervical and breast cancer screening.
Erectile dysfunction and prostate care are common concerns for men. The prostate is a gland that’s part of the male reproductive system. As men age, the prostate enlarges and may cause health issues. Urinary problems and pain in the groin or lower back may signify a prostate issue.
Bone and Joint Issues
Joint pain is a frequent ailment for many people, especially adults over 50. Target areas for joint include the hips, shoulders, knees and hands. The foot and ankle are prone to injury and can also be a source of pain. The family doctor can screen for arthritis and provide other diagnostic tools and treatment.
Routine childhood and adult immunizations and seasonal flu shots are part of the preventive care offered by family medicine. As vaccines and vaccine recommendations change over time, staying up-to-date with immunization needs is a vital part of individual health.
The Best Care for You
Family medicine provides care for the whole person and family. A family physician treats and manages a wide range of medical concerns that occur across the lifespan. If comprehensive treatment and preventive services are important for you or your family, choosing a family medicine physician as your primary care provider can help keep you feeling your best.