Thursday, November 22, 2007

Infectious Disease Doctor for Lymphedema

Infectious Disease Doctor

I am a firm believer in the concept of a “team” approach to the management and treatment of lymphedema and its associated complications.

What is a Team Approach?

The team approach is a group of medical providers working together for the well being and health of the lymphedema patient.

In my situation, my team consists of

Primary Care Doctor
Pulmonary Doctor
Infectious Diease Doctor

Why Do I Need an Infectious Disease Doctor?

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 ID 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 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.

Typical Procedures

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.


ID specialists often order laboratory tests to examine samples of blood or other body f luids 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 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.

Where Can I Get More Information About the Prevention and Treatment of Infectious Diseases?

Your doctor is your best source of information. In addition, the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA), a professional organization of nearly 8,000 ID physicians, scientists, and other infectious diseases experts, can help point you in the direction of resources and additional information.

Visit IDSA’s website

Infectious Disease

Infectious Disease Internal Medicine Subspecialty

An infectious disease (ID) specialist is a doctor of internal medicine (or, in some cases, pediatrics) who is qualified as an expert in the diagnosis and treatment of infectious diseases. After seven or more years of medical school and postgraduate training, ID specialists complete two to three years of additional training in infectious diseases.

ID specialists have expertise in infections of the sinuses, heart, brain, lungs, urinary tract, bowel, bones and pelvic organs. Their extensive training focuses on all kinds of infections, including those caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites. Many ID physicians specialize in treating patients with infections due to human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the cause of AIDS.
Along with their specialized knowledge comes a particular insight into the use of antibiotics and their potential adverse effects. ID specialists also have additional training in immunology (how the body fights infection), epidemiology (how infections spread) and infection control.

What an infectious disease specialist does

The role of an infectious disease specialist is to review a patient's medical data, including records, X-rays and laboratory reports. They may perform a physical examination, depending on the type of problem. They also counsel healthy people who plan to travel to countries where there is an increased risk of infection.

Laboratory studies are often necessary and may include blood studies and cultures of wounds or body fluids. They may order blood serum studies for antibodies indicating the presence of unusual or uncommon diseases. These studies may help explain the results of studies that a general internist may already have done.

Work in the infectious disease specialty is limited to diagnosis and medical treatment. Infectious diseases specialists do not perform surgery.

When you need an infectious disease specialist

Not everyone who has an infectious disease needs an infectious disease specialist. Your general internist can take care of most infections, but sometimes specialized expertise is needed to either diagnose or manage specific infectious diseases.

When a fever raises the suspicion that you may have an infection, when an infection is potentially serious, or when problems occur with treatment, it may be necessary to consult an infectious diseases specialist. ID specialists can provide special insight into tests that will be helpful in diagnosing and understanding the infection and preventing recurrent infections. They can often help determine what treatment you need, if any, and whether you should receive antibiotics. You may not require any treatment, but if you do, they may confer with your personal physician about which diagnostic testing and forms of treatment are best suited to your needs. If you are hospitalized for an infection or acquire an infection while hospitalized, ID specialists will follow and help direct your hospital care. In some cases, they may continue to see you after you go home from the hospital.

How infectious disease specialists work with other physicians

Although infectious diseases specialists sometimes serve as primary care physicians, in most cases you will still need your regular doctor. Usually you will 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 we feel confident that the infection will not recur. You will resume care with your regular physician when your condition has stabilized or is cured.

Doctors for Adults

See also: Infectious Disease Doctor