There are many different areas of medicine. If your child has ever been referred to a specialist it is often difficult to know how one differs from another. Here is a list of pediatric specialties with a brief description of each one.
Allergy – Treatment of an individual’s immune system response to an allergen (something in the environment that triggers a negative reaction.) Reactions can range from sneezing to asthma to eczema to not breathing.
Anesthesiology – Management of pain. For example, an anesthesiologist monitors a patient during surgery and provides appropriate pain relief.
Cardiology – Treatment of heart conditions, such as congenital heart defects.
Critical Care Medicine – Treatment of severely sick babies or children in the hospital, usually in a neonatal or pediatric intensive care unit (NICU or PICU).
Dermatology – Treatment of the skin, hair and nails. It includes birthmarks as well as skin growths or infections.
Developmental Behavioral Medicine – Treatment of children who have developmental delays, disabilities, birth defects, emotional and/or behavioral issues.
Emergency Medicine – Treatment given in a hospital emergency room or trauma center for illnesses or injuries requiring immediate attention.
Endocrinology – Treatment of many conditions related to the endocrine system (glands and the hormones they produce). Conditions include diabetes, thyroid disorders, hormone and growth problems.
Gastroenterology – Treatment of digestive disorders (occurring in organs such as the esophagus, stomach, intestines, liver). Disorders can include reflux problems, bowel disorders, celiac disease, and many other issues.
Genetics – Treatment and guidance regarding conditions, diseases or birth defects that are passed down from parent to child (inherited).
Hematology – Treatment of blood disorders, such as sickle cell disease or hemophilia.
Immunology – Treatment of the body’s immune system when it fails to work correctly. (The immune system helps to fight foreign germs or diseases.)
Infectious disease – Treatment of specific diseases that are visible only under a microscope, such as viruses, parasites or bacterial infections. There are hundreds. Some examples include Rotavirus, Hepatitis, Measles, Tuberculosis, Salmonella, Shingles, Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV), Listeriosis and even the Flu.
Neonatal and Perinatal Medicine – Treatment of very ill newborn babies. It can include premature or full term infants. (Neonatal means the period from birth through the first 28 days of life; Perinatal means the time from the 22nd week of gestation during pregnancy through the first 28 days after delivery.)
Nephrology – Treatment of kidney disease, urinary tract or bladder problems and even high blood pressure.
Neurology – Treatment of the body’s nervous system disorders which include seizures, headaches, tics, developmental delays, sleep problems, muscle weakness disorders (such as cerebral palsy and muscular dystrophy), autism, and intellectual disability.
Oncology – Treatment of different kinds of cancers.
Ophthalmology –Treatment of diseases and dysfunction of the eyes. Examples include visual processing disorders, eye injuries, blocked tear ducts, lazy eye, and complications from juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.
Orthopedics – Treatment of bone, joint and muscle problems, such as broken bones, joint infections, club foot, scoliosis and other deformities, and abnormal walking patterns. Treatment may include surgery.
Otolaryngology – Treatment of the ears, nose and throat (also known as ENT), head and neck diseases.
Physiatry or Physical Medicine (also known as Rehabilitation Medicine) – Treatment to restore function and reduce pain in a physically disabled child, which could be due to cerebral palsy, spina bifida, brain or spinal cord injuries or other disorders.
Psychiatry –Treatment of mental and emotional disorders, such as anxiety, depression and bipolar disorder.
Pulmonology – Treatment of breathing problems and lung diseases, including asthma, cystic fibrosis, apnea, recurring pneumonia and airway disorders.
Radiology – The use of imaging technology (X-rays, MRI, CT scans, nuclear medicine) in diagnosing diseases and injuries.
Surgery – Treatment of diseases, deformities or injuries by operating. Specialties include heart and lungs, neurosurgery (brain), oral, head and neck, orthopedic and plastic surgery.
Urology – Treatment of urinary and genital system problems, such as incontinence, bed wetting, undescended testes, genital abnormalities, tumors and other disorders.
Note: This post is part of the weekly series Delays and disabilities – how to get help for your child. It was started in January and appears every Wednesday. Go to News Moms Need and click on “Help for your child” on the menu on the right side to view all of the blog posts to date. As always, we welcome your comments and input.
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