Infections can present in a myriad of different ways, including rashes, pain, fevers, loss of appetite, and gastrointestinal symptoms. There are a number of situations in which a doctor might refer patients to a specialist in infectious diseases. Some examples are:
- When an infection is difficult to diagnose
- When an infection is accompanied by unusual symptoms, such as a high fever
- When a patient does not respond to treatment
- When a healthy person plans to travel to an area where infection risk is higher
- When a chronic infection is a major part of someone’s healthcare, such as a patient with HIV/AIDS
The specialist will review laboratory tests and imaging, and may even culture other body fluids or wounds to arrive at a diagnosis. Treatment can then be tailored to the individual patient’s infection according to local antibiotic resistance patterns. Infectious disease specialists also may recommend vaccination regimens, as immunization is one of the best ways to prevent infectious disease in children and adults.