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What Is a Pulmonologist ?
If you have a cough that lasts for a long time, or you have trouble breathing, your regular healthcare provider may suggest you see a pulmonologist. This specialist is an expert in diagnosing and treating lung-related health conditions. This is important especially when the condition may need long-term management.
A pulmonologist is a doctor who diagnoses and treats diseases of the respiratory system, the lungs and other organs that help you breathe. For some relatively short-lasting illnesses that affect your lungs, like the flu or pneumonia, you might be able to get all the care you need from your regular doctor. But if your cough, shortness of breath, or other symptoms don't get better, you might need to see a pulmonologist.
What Does a Pulmonologist Do ?
For conditions like asthma, bronchitis, or other lung diseases and conditions affecting the respiratory system, a pulmonologist can help diagnose and treat them. A pulmonologist diagnoses and treats conditions that affect the respiratory system. Pulmonologists treat everything from asthma to tuberculosis. They have expertise in the following types of respiratory disorders :
In some instances, their expertise extends to the cardiovascular system. Certain conditions, such as pulmonary vascular disease, can first affect the respiratory system but go on to affect other areas of the body.
A pulmonologist may work in their own office or as part of a multidisciplinary practice. They can also work in hospital settings, particularly intensive care units.
What is pulmonology ?
Pulmonology is the field of medicine that focuses specifically on the respiratory system. The respiratory system includes the organs that help you breathe.
The respiratory system
The three major parts of this system are the airway, lungs, and respiratory muscles.
The airway includes the :
You use several muscles during respiration. The most notable is the diaphragm. The other muscles are categorized in groups, including the :
Exhalation is a passive process because of the elastic properties of the lungs. During forced exhalation, the expiratory muscles are used, which include those of the abdominal wall and some of the rib cage.
Subspecialties of pulmonology include :
Pulmonologists treat conditions of the respiratory system, especially of the lungs. These conditions can be caused by things like inflammation, tissue overgrowth and infections. Many of these illnesses may require long-term, even lifelong, treatment plans. Your pulmonologist will work with your primary care doctor, and possibly other specialists, on treatment plans.
A pulmonologist can treat many kinds of lung problems. These include:
How Do Pulmonologists Diagnose Lung Diseases ?
Pulmonologists use tests to figure out what kind of lung problem you have. They might ask you to get :
What Kinds of Procedures Do Pulmonologists Do ?
Pulmonologists can do special procedures such as :
Why See a Pulmonologist ?
If you have symptoms that your regular healthcare provider isn’t able to help you with, or if they think you would be better off seeing a specialist, they might refer you to a pulmonologist.
You might see a pulmonologist if you have symptoms such as :
If it’s your first appointment with a pulmonologist, you should be ready to fill out a medical history and have a physical examination. During this time, you can talk with your healthcare provider about the reasons you’re there and explain the details of your symptoms. You might find it helpful to come prepared with paper and pen to provide information like how long symptoms have lasted and to remember questions you want your healthcare provider to answer.
What’s the difference between a cardiologist and a pulmonologist ?
The difference, basically, is the area of specialization. The cardiologist is an expert on the heart, while the pulmonologist is an expert on the lungs. These areas of your body are closely linked, though, and work better together when both your heart and lungs are healthy. If you have a disease like pulmonary hypertension, you may need to see both types of doctors since both heart and the lungs are involved.
What’s the takeaway ?
If you have a temporary respiratory condition, such as a cold or mild pneumonia, you may not need to seek professional care at all, let alone care from a specialist. However, if your symptoms are more severe or you have a chronic condition such as COPD, you may benefit from seeing a pulmonologist. They can diagnose the condition that’s causing your symptoms. They can also determine the best treatment, which may include a mix of lifestyle changes, medical devices (such as a CPAP machine), and prescription medications.
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