Confused about which specialist to see for your medical care? To help you understand from whom to seek treatment, here is a list of doctors' specialties and their areas of expertise.
By Dr Shyam Kumar
Monika’s son Roshan fell from his bicycle and hurt his head. Though he was in pain for some time, he became alright soon. However, in the days that followed, he began having intermittent bouts of severe headache, dizziness and vomiting. Monika became quite concerned and planned to take Roshan to see a doctor. However, she couldn't decide which specialist to take Roshan to. While a colleague suggested a visit to a nephrologist, her friend advised her to take Roshan to a urologist. As a parent, do you also find yourself in a similar dilemma at times?
We have compiled a doctor's specialization list. Hopefully, this will help you choose the right medical consultant the next time someone in your family has a health issue.
Acupuncturist: A practitioner specialising in acupuncture therapy, which is a form of traditional Chinese medicine. In this system of therapy, fine needles are inserted at specific points in the body to cure ailments and adverse health conditions. At times, the acupuncturist may manipulate the needles for better efficacy.
Allergy specialist: Also called an immunologist, an allergist is trained to diagnose and treat allergy and immunology problems. Allergy specialists see patients with a wide range of health issues such as allergic rhinitis, urticaria, angioedema, asthma and food allergy.
Anaesthesiologist: This is a doctor who usually works in the operation theatre. The anaesthesiologist administers and maintains anaesthesia during a surgery. He also monitors the patient's vital signs prior to, during and after a surgery.
Andrologist: Being a doctor who is a specialist in treating problems of the male reproductive system, an andrologist helps male patients overcome infertility issues through medical and surgical management.
Ayurvedic physician/Ayurvedacharya/Vaidya: An Ayurvedic physician practises Ayurveda, which is an ancient form of alternative medicine that originated in India. Ayurvedic therapy is usually a combination of herbal and organic medicines, healthy diet, yoga, meditation, therapeutic massage and breathing exercises.
Bariatric surgeon: A doctor specialising in treating obesity, a bariatric surgeon performs weight loss surgeries such as gastric bypass therapy to help those who are obese to lose weight.
Cardiologist: A specialist who diagnoses and treats ailments of the heart and issues of the cardiovascular system, a cardiologist works with heart surgeons to treat patients who have undergone cardiac surgery. An interventional cardiologist can perform procedures such as heart catheterisation, pacemaker insertion, angioplasty and stent placement.
Cardiovascular surgeon: While a cardiologist is an expert in the prevention and medical management of heart disorders, a cardiovascular surgeon performs complex cardiac surgeries such as valve replacement and bypass surgery to prevent/treat heart failure and other complications.
Chiropractor: Pain and pain management is a complex issue. A chiropractor is a pain management therapist who performs spinal manipulation to treat neuromuscular disorders and musculoskeletal problems such as backache and joint pain.
Critical care specialist: Also called an intensivist, this doctor manages the care of patients admitted in the intensive care unit for life-threatening conditions or after an accident. The critical care specialist also takes care of patients who are on life support systems.
Dentist: You can approach a dentist for all ailments relating to your teeth, gums, jaws and mouth. The dental doctor takes care of issues like tooth extraction, teeth straightening and insertion of false teeth.
Dermatologist: Commonly called a skin doctor or skin specialist, a dermatologist specialises in treating all skin, hair and nail-related conditions.
Diabetologist: A specialist in treating metabolic disorders, a diabetologist is an endocrinologist who treats diabetes mellitus and its complications. A diabetologist advises patients on blood sugar levels, prescribes medication, and recommends good dietary habits and exercise.
Dietitian: The job of a dietitian is to advise individuals to follow proper dietary practices for good health. In a hospital setting, a dietitian assesses diet-related health concerns and provides therapeutic nutrition.
Endocrinologist: This person is a specialist who treats disorders of the endocrine system which includes glands that secrete hormones into the blood stream. You can approach an endocrinologist for hormone problems, diabetes, thyroid disorders and menopausal symptoms.
Ear, nose and throat specialist (ENT): You can visit an ENT specialist for any ear, nose or throat-related ailments. An ENT specialist is also known as an otolaryngologist.
Gastroenterologist: This doctor is a specialist in treating gastric and liver-related disorders. The gastroenterologist also treats disorders such as gas, constipation, diarrhoea, stomach ache and ulcers.
General physician: The friendly neighbourhood physician you visit when you are ill is a general physician. An expert in diagnosing and treating a variety of medical disorders in patients of all age groups and genders, the general physician usually gives non-surgical treatment.
Geriatrician: A medical specialist who treats ailments of elderly patients and addresses problems of age-related disability, a geriatrician usually treats patients aged more than 65 years.
Gynaecologist and obstetrician: These doctors provide care for medical disorders related to the female genitourinary tract, reproductive system and breasts. Some gynaecologists also specialise in obstetrics, a branch of medicine related to providing care during pregnancy and childbirth. They are called ob-gyns.
Hepatologist: A specialist who treats disorders of the liver, pancreas and gallbladder, a hepatologist treats and manages patients with liver-related ailments such as jaundice, hepatitis and cirrhosis.
Haematologist: This is a doctor who treats diseases of the blood and blood-forming tissues (bone marrow), and the lymphatic system.
Homoeopathy doctor: Trained in Homoeopathy, which is an alternative system of medicine, a homeopath prescribes medicines to stimulate the body’s natural defence system to cure and prevent diseases.
Infertility specialist: An infertility doctor diagnoses and treats male and female infertility disorders. The specialist also performs tests such as sperm and semen analysis, follicular studies and procedures such as in vitro fertilisation (IVF) and intrauterine insemination.
Infectious disease specialist: A doctor of internal medicine, an infectious disease physician specialises in diagnosing and treating infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C and tuberculosis.
Internist: This is a physician of general medicine. An internist is a primary care doctor who treats adult patients for a wide range of diseases, and may also refer them to appropriate specialists based on the nature of their illnesses.
Naturopathic doctor: A naturopath treats diseases with natural foods and exercise such as yoga. Naturopathy is essentially a drugless form of therapy.
Neonatologist: Paediatricians who focus on the treatment and care of newborns and their medical disorders are called neonatologists. Neonatologists usually do not have private practice but work in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) of a hospital/clinic.
Nephrologist: You can see a nephrologist for any kidney-related disorder. A nephrologist is qualified in the diagnosis and treatment of renal disorders such as kidney stones, hypertension or impaired renal function.
Neurologist: A neurologist is a physician who treats medical conditions associated with the brain, spinal cord and the nervous system.
Oncologist: Also called a cancer specialist, an oncologist is a doctor who specialises in treating different forms of cancer with medicine, chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
Ophthalmologist: An eye doctor is someone you should see for all eye-related complaints. Most ophthalmologists not only treat eye defects and disorders with medicine and but also perform surgical intervention such as cataract removal.
Orthopaedist: You can see an orthopaedist for complaints such as fractures, bone pain and joint dislocations.
Paediatrician: Also known as a child specialist, a paediatrician specialises in the diagnosis and treatment of physical, and (in some cases) some overt emotional and behavioural disorders in children.
Pathologist: A doctor who studies the scientific nature, causes and effects of disease in the laboratory is called a pathologist. This specialist especially tests and analyses body tissue samples either for diagnostic or forensic purposes (including the examination of dead bodies to find out the cause of death).
Physiotherapist: A trained professional who carries out rehabilitative treatment of patients with disability caused by an injury, illness or ageing is known as a physiotherapist.
Plastic surgeon: This specialist performs re-constructive surgery of the face and body parts in order to set right defects caused by injuries, trauma, burns or disease. A subspecialty of plastic surgery is cosmetic surgery. A physician who performs cosmetic surgery is called cosmetic surgeon. Cosmetic surgery is usually elective and performed for enhancing an individual's appearance.
Podiatrist: This person is a foot doctor who is an expert in treating all the ailments related to the foot and ankle. These foot disorders could be due to anatomic defects, sports injuries, trauma or diabetes.
Psychiatrist: This specialist is a mental health doctor who works with individuals suffering from depression, anxiety, psychosis, substance abuse and various other emotional disturbances and mental disorders.
Pulmonologist: A doctor who specialises in treating diseases of the lungs, a pulmonologist's consultation is needed for complaints involving breathing disorders such as asthma, emphysema and bronchitis.
Radiologist: This doctor studies and interprets imaging studies like X-ray and ultrasound to diagnose disease conditions. A radiologist can specialise in various radiology subspecialties like chest radiology, head and neck radiology and paediatric radiology.
Rheumatologist: You can visit a rheumatologist for joint pain, gout, arthritis or tendinitis. This physician is a specialist in treating diseases affecting the musculoskeletal system.
Siddha doctor: This is a doctor of the Siddha system of medicine. This system is effective in treating skin diseases such as psoriasis, anaemia, piles and liver diseases.
Unani doctor: This doctor treats patients based on observation and physical examination. Unani medicine is an alternative system of medicine and involves the use of herbal remedies and dietary practices.
Urologist: A physician who focusses on the diagnosis and treatment of problems of the urinary tract in both men and women, a urologist can also be consulted for issues related to male infertility.
About the author:
Written by Dr Shyam Kumar on 6 July 2019
The author holds a degree in Homoeopathy with an MBA in Hospital Management and has worked across multiple disciplines including healthcare and technology. As a nature lover, he attended the world's first underwater CEO's conference to combat marine pollution.
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