Until I acquired lymphoma, the most pressing complication that I experienced with my leg lymphedema was recurrent and severe cellulitiis. It was apparent long ago that we desperately needed a way to control it (try to prevent) and if it did occur to promptly and successfully treat the infection.
The result is that I have been under the care of an ID doctor now for over twenty years.
Because of our susceptibility to infections and because our lymphedema arm or leg is immunocompromised, it is essential that any lymphedema patient with recurrent infections enlist the aide of an “ID” doctor. They are specially trained in infections and are far more qualified to treat them then any other type of doctor.
My ID doc, Dr. Elliott Raizes has been a life saver and a God send in my own battle with lymphedema. Not only does he has that “old fashioned” and rapidly disappearing concern for his patients, but his knowledge of bacterial infections is unbelievable.
How do I Find an Infectious Disease Doctor?
The easiest way is to simply ask or if need be insist on a referral to one in your area from your PCP. They may already know of a good doctor within your community.
You can also find participating ID doctors in your insurance plan through their “Find a Doctor” service or you can locate one through the internet.
What is an Infectious Disease Specialist?
Infectious Disease Specialists are like medical detectives. They examine difficult cases, looking for clues to identify the culprit and solve the problem.
Your ID Physician Has 9-10 Years of Specialized Education & Training
- 4 years of medical school
- 3 years training as a doctor of internal medicine
- 2-3 years specialized training in infectious diseases
Most ID specialists who treat patients also are board certified. They have passed a difficult certification examination by the American Board of Internal Medicine in both internal medicine and infectious diseases.
Reducing the Risk of Infectious Disease
One of the best strategies for preventing infectious diseases is immunization. Make sure you and your children receive all recommended vaccinations.
Ask your doctor for advice about other things you and your family can do to prevent infectious diseases.
When you Need an ID Specialist
Many common infections can be treated by your personal physician. Your doctor might refer you to an ID specialist in cases where an infection is difficult to diagnose, is accompanied by a high fever, or does not respond to treatment. ID specialists also see healthy people who plan to travel to foreign countries or locations where infection risk is higher. In these cases, ID specialists can help determine whether special immunizations or other preventive measures are necessary to protect travelers from disease.
ID specialists review your medical data, including X-rays and laboratory reports such as blood work and culture data. They also may perform a physical exam to help determine the cause of the problem.
D specialists often order laboratory tests to examine samples of blood or other body fluids or cultures from wounds. A blood serum analysis can help the ID specialist detect antibodies that indicate what type of infection you have. These advanced tests can further explain the results of earlier tests, helping to pinpoint the problem.
Treatments consist of medicines—usually antibiotics—to help battle the infection and prevent it from returning. These medicines may be given to you orally (in the form of pills or liquids) or administered directly into your veins, via an IV tube. Many ID specialists have IV antibiotic therapy available in their offices, which decreases the likelihood that you will need to be hospitalized.
What Information Should You Give to Your ID Specialist?
- All medical records related to your condition
X-rays, laboratory reports and immunization records. Often your personal physician will forward this information to the specialist before your scheduled appointment.
- A list of all medications you take
This list should include over-the-counter and prescription medications
- A list of any allergies you have.
- Let the ID specialist know if you are taking birth control pills.
Some antibiotics may interfere with the effectiveness of oral contraceptives.
How Does My ID Specialist Work With Other Medical Professionals?
The ID specialist works with your personal physician to determine which diagnostic tests are appropriate. If treatment is necessary, your doctor and the ID specialist will work together to develop a treatment plan best suited to your needs. Often you will be asked to return to the ID specialist for a follow-up visit. This allows the specialist to check on your progress, confirm that the infection is gone and help prevent it from coming back. If you acquire an infection while in the hospital, the ID specialist will work with other hospital physicians to help direct your care. The specialist also might provide follow-up care after you go home.
If your ID specialist is also your personal physician, he or she will coordinate your care, referring you to other specialists when necessary.
ID Specialists Are Experts in the Diagnosis and Treatment of Illnesses Caused by Microorganisms.
ID specialists see patients to determine whether their symptoms are due to an infection. Patients often see ID specialists due to a fever.
Some ID specialists serve as primary care physicians, for example, for people with HIV/AIDS, treating most illnesses and coordinating their patients’ overall care.
In all of these cases, the specialized training and diagnostic tools of the ID specialist can help determine the cause of your infection and the best approach to treatment.