The 7 Types of Doctors Everyone Needs

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Getting regular checkups is key to uncovering any health problems you might have and getting them treated early. It can also help prevent some diseases from developing. This means you need to see various doctors—some quite often, others just at some points in your life. Here are the providers you want on your medical team.


Pediatrician

Children should see a pediatrician from birth. These doctors are experts in issues that affect child development, such as speech and learning how to walk. They diagnose and treat childhood conditions. They vaccinate kids against many serious diseases. Pediatricians also help parents deal with common concerns, like problems with toilet training and behavior.

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Primary Care Doctor

All adults should have a primary care doctor. These are usually internal medicine (internists) or family medicine doctors. Getting an annual checkup can help your doctor spot health issues early on. Untreated conditions, such as high blood pressure, can lead to serious problems that are harder to treat. Primary care doctors look for signs of heart disease, diabetes, and other chronic health issues that become more common with age. Your primary care doctor can also suggest how to prevent illnesses from developing and give adult vaccinations, such as the flu shot.

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Obstetrician-Gynecologist

All women should see an obstetrician-gynecologist (Ob/Gyn) starting by age 15. These doctors treat conditions that affect women and their reproductive health. Women who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant should schedule regular prenatal visits. Prenatal care can help ensure babies are born healthy. Ob/Gyns also provide women with options for birth control. And they screen for diseases that affect women, such as cervical cancer.

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Urologist/Urogynecologist

Urologists are doctors who specialize in the male and female urinary tracts. They treat issues ranging from kidney stones to incontinence. They also treat conditions that involve the male reproductive system. This includes sexual dysfunction, which is more common among older men. Men 55 to 69 years old should see a urologist to determine whether screening for prostate cancer should be done. 

Women may benefit from seeing a urogynecologist, a doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of conditions of the pelvic area, including prolapsed bladder, urinary incontinence, and chronic pelvic pain. A related specialty is female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery.  

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Ophthalmologist

These doctors diagnose and treat eye diseases. Eye doctors also prescribe lenses to correct vision problems. Visiting an eye doctor can help catch problems early and protect your vision. Early signs of eye disease or vision changes often start in middle age. Everyone should visit an ophthalmologist for an eye exam around age 40. If you already have health problems that could affect your vision, you should see an eye doctor even earlier. Older people should have their eyes checked every year for signs of age-related eye problems. People who wear contact lenses also should have annual eye exams.

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Dermatologist

Dermatologists are skin specialists. Having a routine exam to check your skin for signs of cancer, such as moles with odd shapes, can find the disease early on. This can improve the odds of successful treatment. It’s important to tell your dermatologist about any changes or new spots on your skin. A routine skin exam is especially important for people with weakened immune systems and those with a family history of skin cancer

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Dentist

Everyone should visit the dentist regularly. Regular dental checkups should begin once children have teeth and continue about every six months throughout your life. Visiting the dentist regularly for an exam and a cleaning can help prevent oral health problems from developing. It can also catch signs of trouble early, when treatment is simpler. Some medical conditions, such as diabetes, can affect your mouth. Your dentist can detect and also help treat symptoms associated with these health problems.

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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2019 May 23
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.

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