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Finding the right doctor
MIND YOUR BODY By Willie T. Ong, MD (The Philippine Star) Updated January 04, 2011 12:00 AM Comments (0)

Special thanks: Our family is greatly indebted to many doctor-friends who have shared their expertise with us and shown us great kindness. For the past few months, my 100-year-old grandmother has been under the expert care of the doctors, residents, and nurses at the Manila Doctors Hospital. Words cannot express our eternal gratitude for their compassionate care. Thanks to Dr. Roehl Salvador (surgeon), Dr. Noemi Pestano (cardiologist), Dr. Melecia Velmonte (infectious disease specialist), Dr. Abundio Balgos (pulmonologist), Dr. Billy Ong (anesthesiologist), Drs. Rey and Iris Tan (nephrologist and endocrinologist), Dr. Alfredo Pontejos (ENT doctor) and Dr. Raffy Chan (gastroenterologist).
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If you don’t feel well, do you always know which doctor to go to? Well, I know that a lot of patients are confused as to which doctor to go to for their symptoms.
As a general rule, first consult a family medicine practitioner or a general practitioner for your medical concerns. And if your case warrants it, he/she will direct you to another doctor.
For this article, I’ll give you a rundown of some specialties of doctors and a short description of what they do. This is just a partial list.
Allergologist: If you have problems with allergy, constant runny nose, sneezing, coughing or rashes that just come and go, see an allergologist. I was lucky to find a good allergologist who diagnosed my daughter Anjelica’s constant itching and rashes. We found the culprit — allergy to eggs. Thanks to Dr. Benigno Agbayani Sr.
Cardiologist or heart specialist: If you have chest pains, heart disease, high cholesterol or high blood pressure, you need to see a cardiologist. There are several kinds of cardiologists. A general cardiologist diagnoses and treats diseases of the heart and blood vessels in adults. A pediatric cardiologist treats heart diseases in children. They are the experts in congenital heart diseases, like if a baby is born with a hole in the heart. If you need an angiogram or an angioplasty, you need to see an interventional cardiologist.
• Cosmetic surgeon: Well, this line of work needs no explanation. You may need one if you want to be beautiful, have your eye bags removed, and turn back the years.
Dermatologist: If you have skin problems, you want your unsightly blemishes or warts removed, or you’re considering hair removal, you need to see a dermatologist.

Ear, nose, throat specialist: For ringing ears, dizziness, deafness, and, sometimes, for objects stuck inside the ear, see an ENT specialist. By the way, they’re the experts, too, in nose bleeding, polyps, mouth sores, and tonsillitis.
Endocrinologist: OK, think diabetes, fatty foods, and obesity. Also add problems of goiters and hyperactive thyroids. You need your diabetes experts, the endocrinologists.
Gastroenterologist: I guess you know that gastro doctors treat ulcers, abdominal pains, and constipation. But they’re experts in problems of the liver (like hepatitis), gallbladder, and pancreas, too. Gastroenterologists are the ones who perform a proctosigmoidoscopy and colonoscopy to rule out colon cancer.
Infectious disease specialist (IDS): For prolonged fever and difficult-to-treat infections, ranging from dengue to typhoid, sexually-transmitted disease, and swine flu, you need the IDS experts.
Nephrologist or kidney specialist: If you have urinary problems or swelling of the feet, you can see a nephrologist. They handle all kinds of kidney diseases, as well as kidney failure, dialysis, and kidney transplants.
Neurologist or brain specialist: If you experience persistent headaches, dizziness, or tingling of the hands and feet, see a neurologist. They’re the experts in diseases of the nervous system, plus the brain, spinal cord, and nerves.
Obstetrician and gynecologist: They provide care during pregnancy and childbirth, and also treat conditions of the female reproductive system. There are some doctors who train in oncology and gynecology combined (the gyne-onco), which makes them the experts in treating masses and cancers of the uterus, cervix, and ovaries.
Oncologist or cancer specialist: This line needs no explanation. They’re the cancer experts.
Ophthalmologist or eye specialist: Is this article blurry or foggy? For any problems related to the eye, see your ophthalmologist who’s the expert in cataract, glaucoma, and red eyes.
Pediatrician: These kids’ specialists take care of patients from birth through their teenage years, maybe until 15-16 years old. Everyone needs a pediatrician, at one time in their lives, for vaccines and checkups.
Psychiatrist: A psychiatrist treats depression, anxiety disorders, and mental illness. They handle drug addiction problems, alcoholism, as well as relationship/emotional problems. And don’t worry, majority of their patients are not mentally ill. They’re really a pleasure to talk to.
Pulmonologist or lung specialist: Have difficulty breathing? Coughing out phlegm? Smoking every day? Losing weight? See a lung specialist before it’s too late. Pulmonologists also treat asthma, allergies, and those with sleep apnea.
Rheumatologist: A rheumatologist specializes in arthritis problems. Any joint, bone, and muscle pain is within their field of expertise, too.
Surgical Specialties
Cardiothoracic surgeon: Heart bypass, fixing an aortic aneurysm, and removing a mass in the lung — cardiothoracic surgeons perform these delicate and difficult operations within the heart and chest area.
General surgeon: Diagnoses and removes diseased organs such as the appendix, gallbladder, thyroid, breast masses, and other cysts.
Neurosurgeon: Brain tumors, brain aneurysms, spinal nerve problems are all delicate operations for the steady hands of our neurosurgeons.
Orthopedic surgeon: For bone problems like fractures, osteoporosis, and various aches and pains, see your orthopedic surgeon. They also handle hip and knee problems, especially sports-related injuries.
• Plastic surgeon: This miracle worker repairs the physical defects of our skin, muscles, face, extremities, breasts, and external genitalia.
Urologist: Here’s the favorite doctor of guys above 50. They’re the experts in impotence, prostate problems, and sex concerns. All your secrets are safe in the private office of your favorite urologist.
There are many more important specialties and fields in medicine (such as rehabilitation medicine, geriatric medicine, anesthesia, colorectal surgery, bariatric surgery, alternative medicine, public health medicine, and many more). Maybe in the future, I can come up with a second part to this article.
Finally, for your medical problems, my advice is for you to look for PRC board-certified doctors and you can’t go wrong. More power to all our Filipino doctors!