We'll Give You Some Symptoms, You Tell Us What Kind of Doctor to See

EMPLOYMENT

Maria Trimarchi

6 Min Quiz

Image: Shutterstock

About This Quiz

Whether it's a headache, a diabetes diagnosis, or an ankle sprain, it's always smart to start with your primary care doctor - but your situation may be better suited for a physician with a specialty.


From pediatricians and OB/GYNs to medical microbiologists and ophthalmic plastic and reconstructive surgeons, there are a lot of medical specialists ready to help diagnose, treat, and prevent any disease or injury you may suffer from, from head to toe.

It wasn't always that way. As far back as the ancient Greeks, physician Hippocrates of Kos is considered the father of modern medicine in the history of medicine and early medical works, but back then, physicians were generalists, helping patients with everything from disease to injury. Otolaryngology is the oldest medical specialty in the U.S., and it wasn't until the 1930s when 13 medical specialties were officially recognized in the United States, with boards established to certify qualified medical professionals.


Let's see if you know your anesthesiologist from your urologist, your podiatrist from your psychiatrist, and everything in between.

You have watery eyes, an itchy nose, and hives. Which doctor should you see?

Allergies are not only uncomfortable, they can be life threatening. Allergists are doctors who specialize in diagnosing and treating allergies, from asthma to other allergic diseases.

Advertisement

What type of specialist should you see if your excessive snoring is keeping your family awake at night?

A board-certified sleep specialist is a medical doctor who is trained to help people of all ages with sleep-related conditions, from snoring and sleep apnea to insomnia and narcolepsy. It overlaps with several other specialties, including everything from neurology to psychiatry.

Advertisement

Weight loss for no known reason, fatigue, and lumps may be a sign of cancer. What kind of specialist can help?

Oncologists are specialists who diagnose and treat tumors and other symptoms of cancer. Oncology has three major areas, ranging from medical and surgical to radiation.

Advertisement

Which type of doctor should you take your child to if she has a fever, a poor appetite, and is tugging on her ear?

Fever, ear tugging, and a poor appetite are signs of an ear infection, and as many as three-quarters of American kids will get one by age 3. Pediatricians focus on the physical and mental health of us from birth to young adulthood.

Advertisement

You've got a positive pregnancy test - congratulations! With what type of doctor should you make your first prenatal appointment?

In addition to carefully watching you during your pregnancy and delivery, an Obstetrician/Gynecologist (OB/GYN) is who you see for their expertise in female reproductive health, pregnancy, and childbirth. Obstetricians, specifically, take care of women during pre-conception, pregnancy and just after the baby is born.

Advertisement

A male with an inability to achieve or sustain an erection, coupled with a reduced interest in sex should visit what type of specialist?

Andrologists specialize in male health, particularly the male reproductive system and urological problems. Symptoms such as erectile dysfunction and a reduced interest in sex would fall under this specialty.

Advertisement

What type of specialist can help if you have pale skin, slow wound healing, and a fast heartbeat?

From blood cancers such as leukemia to blood disorders like sickle cell disease, hematologists specialize in the diagnosis and treatment, as well as prevention, of diseases of the blood.

Advertisement

Which type of specialist treats gums that are bright red, swollen, and bleed easily?

Periodontists specialize in the diagnosis and treatment, as well as prevention, of periodontal disease, which affects not only the gums but the supportive structures of the teeth. These specialists also treat oral inflammation and are experts in dental implants.

Advertisement

If you've been having hearing, dizziness and balance problems, which type of specialist can help?

An audiologist can manage any hearing, balance, and general ear issues. Audiology is the branch of medicine that studies, diagnoses, and treats hearing, balance, and their related disorders. Diagnostic tests include those such as tympanometry and pure tone audiometry.

Advertisement

You've had a heart attack - what type of doctor should you see for follow-up treatment?

If you're having a problem with your cardiovascular system, a cardiologist can help. They have extra training to diagnose, treat, and prevent diseases of the heart and blood vessels.

Advertisement

If you suffer from frequent respiratory infections, wheezing, and general fatigue, what type of doctor can help you catch your breath?

A pulmonologist is a specialist in the anatomy, physiology, and pathology of the lungs, which means they diagnose, treat, and prevent everything from asthma attacks to tuberculosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and more.

Advertisement

You notice a new brownish-red mole on your neck. Who should evaluate it?

The doctor who examines any moles, acne and other skin problems you develop is called a dermatologist. Dermatologists also have special training in diagnosing and treating any problems with skin, hair, and nails.

Advertisement

You can't sleep, you feel hopeless, and you've lost interest in the things you usually enjoy doing. Who can help you feel better?

A psychiatrist is a medical doctor with specialized knowledge in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of mental illness. While they can prescribe medication, psychologists cannot.

Advertisement

Which type of medical doctor can help diagnose and treat your back or neck pain?

Physicians who specialize in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation are known as physiatrists (and they're also called PM&R physicians). You'd visit a physiatrist for the treatment of either acute or chronic pain.

Advertisement

After having a heart operation, you'll spend some time in the intensive care unit (the ICU). Who will care for you there?

An intensivist is a board-certified medical doctor who has specialized in the care of critically ill patients. Also known as a critical care physician, you'll find these doctors most often in the intensive care unit.

Advertisement

Your pregnancy with twins has been difficult. Who will care for you and your unborn baby during your high-risk pregnancy?

A perinatologist is a medical doctor with knowledge in a subspecialty of obstetrics: maternal-fetal medicine. During a high-risk pregnancy, they work with your OB/GYN to diagnose, treat, and prevent any complications.

Advertisement

What type of physician should you schedule an appointment with for your annual routine physical?

Many adults see an internist as their primary care provider (PCP). Doctors of internal medicine can handle everything from your routine physical to treating the disease as well as working with you on care for conditions such as diabetes or heart disease.

Advertisement

There's a bulging bump on the outside of the base of your big toe, and it's red and sore around the joint. Which doctor can treat your bunion?

A doctor of podiatric medicine (DPM), also known as a foot and ankle surgeon, studies and treats problems with feet, ankles, and lower extremities. Podiatrists are trained in treating everything from corns and calluses to performing bunionectomies (bunion removal) and more.

Advertisement

Roughly one in 10 people over the age of 65 have fatigue, dizziness, and other symptoms of anemia. Which doctor focuses on senior health?

While internists and family physicians can care for you as you age, a geriatrician specializes in diagnosing, treating, and preventing disease in older adults. These doctors have special knowledge in the aging process and are experienced in multiple areas including neurology, psychiatry and rehabilitation medicine.

Advertisement

Your joints feel stiff, swollen and painful, especially first thing in the morning. Which specialist is trained to diagnose and treat musculoskeletal diseases, like arthritis?

Rheumatologists have had special training in diseases that affect joints, muscles, and bones, including autoimmune conditions, like rheumatoid arthritis, commonly referred to as rheumatic diseases.

Advertisement

You're having swallowing problems with some coughing, hoarseness, and hiccuping. Which type of doctor can help diagnose the problem?

From gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) to cancer screenings, a gastroenterologist is trained in the prevention and management of diseases of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. They specialize in keeping your esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, and the biliary system (which includes the liver, pancreas, gallbladder, and bile ducts) healthy.

Advertisement

You have sudden pain that begins on the right side of your lower abdomen, a fever of over 100 degrees F, and you've been vomiting. Who should treat you?

Life-threatening emergencies, like appendicitis, require an emergency physician, who is trained in everything from advanced cardiac life support and resuscitation to trauma care such as broken bones. Emergency doctors work in the emergency department; if you're admitted to the hospital, another physician takes over your care.

Advertisement

You're feeling fatigued, and you've noticed you have foamy urine and ammonia-smelling breath. Who can treat your symptoms?

Specifically, it's a nephrologist who treats kidney (also known as renal) disease, such as chronic kidney disease (CKD). Typically, symptoms of kidney disease can be hard to recognize without a doctor's examination.

Advertisement

You've been feeling joint pain, noticing some hair loss, and you have a rash in the shape of a butterfly across your cheeks and nose. It's time to call which doctor for treatment?

The immune system is the body's defense against disease. But sometimes it attacks the body instead, causing autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. Immunologists are trained to diagnose and treat not just autoimmune diseases but also immune deficiencies, hypersensitivities, and organ transplant rejection.

Advertisement

Frequent, sudden urges to urinate that you can't control have you in the bathroom more than eight times a day and up all night. Which doctor specializes in bladder problems?

A urologist is a physician who specializes in keeping your genitourinary tract healthy. This comprises of the kidneys, bladder, and adrenal glands, as well as the urethra and the male reproductive organs. Most commonly, patients often include those with urinary tract infections, kidney stones, bladder control problems, and prostate problems.

Advertisement

Chronic sinusitis is a common health complaint among Americans. Which physician can help you feel better?

Otolaryngology, which is the treatment of diseases and disorders of the ear, nose, and throat (ENT) and related parts of your head and neck, has the honor of being the oldest medical specialty in the U.S. Otolaryngologists practice both medicine and surgery.

Advertisement

In addition to seeing "halos" around lights, your vision has become clouded, and it's increasingly difficulty to see at night. Which type of doctor specializes in eye health?

Unlike optometrists, who are doctors of optometry and focus on regular vision car, ophthalmologists are medical doctors who have specialized in eye and vision care. Although they're trained to perform your basic eye exam, they are also able to prescribe medications and perform surgery. In fact, cataract removal is the most commonly performed procedure.

Advertisement

Although a certified technologist may perform the test, what type of doctor "reads" the results of a mammogram or MRI?

Radiologists are medical doctors who have specialized in diagnosing and treating disease and injury through the use of medical imaging techniques, and that means tests such as X-rays, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and ultrasound among others.

Advertisement

You've been feeling cold, constipated, and you've been gaining weight. Who can treat your hypothyroidism?

Endocrinology is the study of medicine that relates to the endocrine system, which is the system of glands and organs that make and control hormones. These doctors specialize in disorders including diabetes, pituitary, thyroid, and adrenal glands among other conditions.

Advertisement

From slips and trips to repetitive strain injury on the job, who is trying to prevent and treat on-the-job injuries?

Occupational medicine physicians deal with the prevention and treatment of job-related injuries and illnesses. OEM physicians' focus on health and safety in the workplace means they work with not only employees but businesses, insurers, regulators, and public health officials.

Advertisement

You've been feeling especially tired and you've had some pain and discomfort in the upper right side of your abdomen. Which doctor can treat your symptoms?

Hepatologists diagnose and treat disorders of the liver, as well as the gallbladder, biliary tree, and pancreas. They manage problems from nonalcoholic fatty liver disease to hepatitis and liver cancer.

Advertisement

Which doctor can help when you have severe pain in the back of the ankle, difficulty standing on your toes, and difficulty walking?

These physicians and surgeons specialize in addressing issues associated with athletics, including not only injuries, such as to your Achilles Tendon, but nutrition, sports psychology, and substance abuse. They also advise professional and amateur athletes on injury prevention.

Advertisement

Which type of doctor can you expect to care for your premature newborn baby while in the hospital?

Neonatologists care for newborn infants, in particular those who are premature. Often you'll find this type of physician in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), where they treat newborns with conditions such as breathing disorders, birth defects, and infections.

Advertisement

You've been experiencing symptoms that include losing consciousness, followed by confusion and sleepiness. Which type of specialist can diagnose and treat your seizures?

A neurologist is a doctor who has specialized in diagnosing and treating diseases of the nervous system, including the brain, spinal cord, peripheral nerves, and muscles. These doctors treat everything from migraines to seizures to memory problems.

Advertisement

Many people have a slight curve in their spine, but yours is more like an "S" - which doctor can help straighten you out?

An orthopaedist is trained to diagnose, correct, and prevent deformities, diseases, and injuries that happen to bones, joints, muscles, ligaments, tendons, and nerves of the musculoskeletal system. This may occur through the use of braces, casts, and depending on the need, surgery.

Advertisement

About HowStuffWorks Play

How much do you know about dinosaurs? What is an octane rating? And how do you use a proper noun? Lucky for you, HowStuffWorks Play is here to help. Our award-winning website offers reliable, easy-to-understand explanations about how the world works. From fun quizzes that bring joy to your day, to compelling photography and fascinating lists, HowStuffWorks Play offers something for everyone. Sometimes we explain how stuff works, other times, we ask you, but we’re always exploring in the name of fun! Because learning is fun, so stick with us!

Explore More Quizzes