Do you have trouble breathing or shortness of breath? If you do, it might be beneficial to consult a physician who specializes in respiratory conditions, AKA a pulmonologist.
In this article, we will discuss what a pulmonologist does, who they can help alongside the conditions they treat, the treatments they can offer, and to seek help from one.
What Pulmonologists Do?
Pulmonologists diagnose and help patients with breathing problems. These breathing problems can occur in any of the three main parts of the respiratory system: the airway, lungs, and respiratory muscles.
Disruption in any of these parts can make the ability to breathe quite difficult. Luckily, pulmonologists have specialized training that focuses on issues of the respiratory system. For example, in most cases, a common cold is a short-term respiratory issue, from which the body usually recovers without medical intervention.
However, there are times when a nasty cough will not go away even after other cold symptoms might have disappeared. This could be a sign of a respiratory infection, in which patients should seek treatment from a pulmonologist.
With a pulmonologist, patients suffering from respiratory conditions can find relief. Pulmonologists treat a wide range of conditions.
Although pulmonologists treat a variety of conditions, WebMD cites several common conditions that a patient might see a pulmonologist for:
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary (COPD)
- Cystic fibrosis
- Interstitial lung disease
- Lung cancer
The overarching theme of these conditions is that many of them involve the lungs in some capacity.
When it comes to lung diseases, a variety of common causes have been drawn. The National Cancer Institute cites causes such as smoking tobacco, breathing secondhand tobacco smoke, radon, asbestos, or other forms of air pollution. Frequent exposure to these things can lead to complications. In fact, Mayo Clinic found that people with COPD, a common respiratory condition, are at a greater risk for developing other conditions such as heart disease and lung cancer.
After an evaluation by a medical provider, patients with respiratory conditions can get a customized treatment plan that best suits their needs.
With so many different conditions out there, pulmonologists offer a host of unique treatments. According to Healthline, some of the most common treatments are as follows:
- CT Scans
- Pulmonary Function Test
- Pulse Oximetry Test
- Pleural Biopsy
- Sleep Study
Pulmonologists often work with a primary care physician to create a treatment plan for patients. Some tests are reserved for certain conditions. For example, sleep studies are used to help patients with sleep apnea while chest x-rays are used to observe heart and lung functions. This latter test can also help detect cancer in the lungs or infection according to Mayo Clinic.
It may seem confusing to know when you need to see a pulmonologist or whether you qualify for one. There are a few reasons to consider making an appointment. We will provide some suggestions.
When To See a Pulmonologist
Although many patients delay visiting physicians, when it comes to issues with the respiratory system, it’s best to act quickly and seek professional treatment. Healthline offers several ways to know if seeing a pulmonologist would be beneficial for a patient.
- Difficulty breathing
- Persistent cough
- Have unexplained weight loss
- Regularly coughing blood or mucus
- Trouble breathing while exercising
It is important to recognize that getting an opinion from a medical expert can lead to patients receiving the critical care they require in order to treat lung diseases. This is even more important for individuals who smoke.
If you smoke, you should consider making an appointment with a pulmonologist to check for cancer. Lung cancer makes up almost 25% of cancer deaths according to the American Cancer Society. In an effort to reduce the risk of lung cancer, the American Lung Association provides eight tips to help stop smoking. Smokers who conquer their smoking habit can significantly improve their lung health. Patients who have concerns should consult a pulmonologist.
How MCR Health Can Help
It is important to remember that a temporary respiratory condition, such as a cold, can go away on its own. But persistent issues of struggling to breathe or if there seems to be a repetitive cause, then you might benefit from seeing a pulmonary specialist.
Here at MCR, we are dedicated to making a healthier tomorrow. Every day, our team of pulmonologists serves this community, diagnosing and treating patients with lung diseases and respiratory conditions. Schedule an appointment to find relief with us today!