If you’re struggling to breathe or have finally figured out why you’re suffering from that persistent cough, you might be referred to see a pulmonology doctor. But who are they? What do they do? How can they tell if the cough is due to a specific pulmonary condition?
In this blog, we will answer most of the questions you might have regarding your pulmonary health. You can then search for the best pulmonary doctor near me for help with lung problems.
What is Pulmonology?
Pulmonary is a crucial part of the medical healthcare system. It is an area of specialty of medicine that focuses specifically on respiratory issues. Moreover, pulmonary means related to the lungs, but it also consists of the trachea, lungs, bronchi, bronchioles, blood vessels, and all the other components of the respiratory system.
Furthermore, pulmonary is a type of internal medicine that focuses on the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of respiratory disorders. In severe conditions, it involves getting patients on mechanical ventilation or life support.
Who is a Pulmonologist?
Pulmonology is one of many fields of medical care that deals with adult health. A pulmonologist is a pulmonary doctor who focuses on and treats the diseases of the respiratory system. Moreover, a pulmonologist is a type of physician who focuses on the diagnosis, treatment, management, and prevention of respiratory diseases.
In addition to that, a pulmonary doctor can also help manage cardiac conditions that are associated with the heart and the circulatory system. They are specialists in critical care and treat patients in the ICU setting.
Pulmonologists are trained with a two-year fellowship after a three-year basic internal medicine residency. They also get certifications in pulmonary disease through the American Board of Internal Medicine.
When should you consult a pulmonologist: Signs and Symptoms
If you are experiencing breathing issues or cough related to specific allergies, you don’t need to go to a pulmonologist. These issues can be treated by a general physician. However, if you have had a persistent cough for weeks and have gotten worse, consult a pulmonary doctor immediately.
Some of the signs and symptoms that you might notice could be related to your lungs, chest, breathing, or any other respiratory organ. Immediately take medical help if you have the following symptoms:
- Difficulty breathing
- A chronic and persistent cough
- Coughing blood or mucus
- Unexplained and excessive weight loss
- Trouble exercising due to breathing problems
- Shortness of breath
- Smoking Habit that has gone out of control
- High fever
- Symptoms get worse or are not improving
- Chest pain
- Fainting, dizziness, or lightheadedness
- Recoccuing bronchitis
- Colds that impact the respiratory symptoms
Furthermore, you can also see a pulmonary doctor for asthma that has unidentified triggers and other medical conditions related to the respiratory system.
What are the causes of Pulmonary disease?
You can develop pulmonary diseases in various ways, but the most common causes include:
- Genetic factors
- Environmental conditions
- Autoimmune conditions
What conditions do pulmonologists treat?
A pulmonary doctor treats the diseases of the respiratory system, especially the lungs. These conditions or diseases can occur due to tissue growth, inflammation, and infections. Several of these diseases might require lifelong treatment plans. Your pulmonologist can work with other specialists, like your primary care doctor to make a proper treatment plan.
Moreover, people diagnosed with any medical conditions listed below should visit a pulmonologist for further specialized treatment.
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- Cystic fibrosis
- Interstitial lung disease
- Lung cancer
- Pulmonary hypertension
- Sleep apnea
- Occupational lung diseases that are caused by inhaling dust particles, toxic chemicals, or proteins
- Pulmonary fibrosis
- Respiratory tract infection
In addition to these diseases, there are numerous more that you can get consultation and treatment for from your pulmonologist.
How do pulmonologists test for diagnosis?
A pulmonologist might ask you to provide medical history and take a physical examination. You can let your pulmonary doctor know about your symptoms and the frequency with which they occur. That will help them determine the severity of your condition and order the appropriate tests for diagnosis. These tests can include the following:
- Blood analysis to check for infections
- Sleep studies help in diagnosing sleep disorders such as sleep apnea
- A pulmonary function test (PFT) is a breathing test that shows how well your lungs are working
- CT scan is a test that creates detailed chest images of the muscles, bones, organs, and blood vessels
- Chest fluoroscopy is an X-ray that creates a series of images that is made into a video showing how well your lungs are functioning.
- Chest ultrasound is when your doctor identifies the issue by taking a closer look at the chest structure and organs.
- A pulse oximetry test is a test determining the oxygen saturation level in your blood.
- Bronchoscopy is a procedure to examine your airway to see the cause of the problem.
- A pleural biopsy is when the doctor removes a small piece of a tissue sample from the membrane surrounding your lungs to check for disease.
- Thoracentesis is when the doctor removes a fluid sample from your lungs to check for disease.
- Chest tubes are used for the removal of air or fluid from your lungs.
Furthermore, you might have to repeat these tests later to let your pulmonary doctor know how well the treatment works for you or whether they have to change it.
What are the treatment options for Pulmonary disease?
Your pulmonary doctor will provide a treatment plan according to your diagnosis. There are several options that the pulmonologist can choose from depending on the severity of your condition. Some of them are as follows:
- Pulmonary rehabilitation
- Prevention and treatment of lung diseases.
- Quit smoking
- Medications for coughs
- Inhalers and tablets to make breathing easier
- Oxygen treatment
In addition to the treatment options, a lung transplant is provided as a treatment procedure if your condition is severe.
What are the preventive measures for Pulmonary disease?
While some risk factors might be unavoidable, you can always take preventive measures for them. These are some of the things that will help prevent pulmonary disease.
- Stop smoking
- Avoid passive smoking
- Wash your hands regularly
- Visit your doctor for regular checkups
- Reduce exposure to pollution
- Cover you cough
- Keep your house clean
- Avoid sitting near a fireplace
- Wear a mask
- Get vaccinated
Furthermore, you can add more preventive measures after consulting your doctor. You might need specific prevention from certain things.
Breathing is a natural thing that we never stop to think about how lucky we are if we have no issues with it. You might not have to think like that until you develop any problem or disease that interferes with your breathing. So, keep yourself healthy and avoid any kind of thing that might disturb your respiratory system. However, if you develop a chronic cough or start to have breathing issues search for the best pulmonary doctor near me to take an appointment for sleep solutions and respiratory issues. That will help you treat and manage your disease. Do not ignore or neglect these diseases because they prove to be fatal in many cases. Stay cautious and healthy as much as you can.
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