When you need basic healthcare services, you can usually start with your primary care provider (PCP). PCPs give you regular checkups, recommended vaccinations and provide care when you’re not feeling great.
But if you have a more complicated health issue or concern, you may need to see a specialist. Specialists are healthcare providers with extra training and expertise in specific areas of medicine.
Here’s a quick guide to some common specialties and what they treat:
Allergies and other immune conditions
Heart disease and other heart conditions
Skin issues, ranging from rashes and hives to psoriasis and skin cancer
Disorders related to the endocrine system, which uses hormones to control and coordinate growth, metabolism and reproduction. Some endocrine-related conditions include diabetes, thyroid diseases, infertility, metabolic disorders, osteoporosis and certain cancers.
The gastrointestinal tract or digestive system. Sometimes called GI doctors, these specialists diagnose and treat conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), reflux, pancreatitis and hepatitis C.
Disorders of the nervous system, which includes the brain as well as the spinal cord and nerves.
Women’s healthcare. Obstetrics is the field of medicine related to pregnancy and childbirth. Gynecology is the field of medicine focusing on women’s health and reproductive care, including perimenopause and postmenopause.
Cancer. There are many different kinds of oncologists, such as those who specialize in surgery, medicine or radiation.
Eye care and vision conditions. Ophthalmologists should not be confused with optometrists, who perform eye exams and prescribe contact lenses and glasses but are not medical doctors, or with opticians, who can fit you for contact lenses or glasses once an ophthalmologist or optometrist writes you a prescription.
The urinary system, including your bladder, kidneys, ureters and urethra.