What does a pulmonologist do?
Pulmonologists are specialists who diagnose and treat conditions that affect the respiratory system in people of all ages. They can work on their own, in specific practices, as part of a multi-disciplinary team in a clinic setting, or in a hospital setting, where they are usually found in intensive care units. If you have a medical issue that involves any part of your respiratory system – from your lungs to your throat – a pulmonologist can help you.
It is important to note that pulmonologists can further specialize or may even focus on a certain disease or conditions, while others may specialize in a certain demographic, such as the elderly or young children. Pulmonologists frequently work closely with cardiologists, as many heart and lung conditions may present with similar symptoms. In a hospital setting, a pulmonologist oversees patients who are in need of life support or manual ventilation in order to breathe – or at least, that segment of their care.
What is pulmonology?
Pulmonology is the medical specialization which deals with diseases and conditions which involve the respiratory tract – which include the airway, the lungs, and the respiratory muscles. It is a branch of internal medicine, related to intensive care medicine, and often involves managing patients who are in need of life support and mechanical ventilation. Pulmonologists are trained specifically in diseases and conditions which affect the chest and respiratory system, which includes pneumonia, asthma, tuberculosis, and complicated chest infections.
What conditions to pulmonologists treat?
Pulmonologists treat a range of conditions and diseases which affect the respiratory system. The conditions that they most commonly treat include the following:
- Bronchitis, which occurs when you have inflamed lower airways;
- Bronchiectasis, which is a condition that involves inflammation and excessive mucus;
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, which causes airflow blockages;
- Emphysema, a condition that occurs when the alveoli in your lungs are damaged;
- Interstitial lung diseases, which are those that affect the space and tissue within your lungs;
- Occupational lung diseases;
- Obstructive sleep apnea, which is a condition that causes your breathing to stop entirely or slow while you sleep.
Pulmonologists are trained to help manage, diagnose, and treat these conditions, some of which may be long-term or lifelong, and will work with you and your family to help find a treatment plan that best works for you and fits your needs.
When should you see a pulmonologist?
If you have a cough that persists for longer than three weeks or becomes severe, you should consult with your primary doctor to see if a referral to a pulmonologist is in your best interest. However, if you experience any of the following symptoms, a visit to a pulmonary specialist may be something to consider:
- Tightness in the chest or pain;
- Dizziness, light-headedness, or fainting;
- Difficulty breathing, particularly during exercise;
- Recurring or chronic bronchitis that impact your respiratory system;
- Asthma that is not well controlled or that has unidentified triggers.
If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms or suspect that there may be a serious underlying condition that is not being diagnosed or properly treated, then you should find a pulmonologist for a consultation.
For those looking for a pulmonary specialist, then Ahava Medical Center is here to help you. If you would like to book an appointment, visit us online or give us a call at (516) 260-5848.