Pulmonology is an area of medicine that focuses on the health of the respiratory system. Pulmonologists treat everything from asthma to tuberculosis.
What is a pulmonologist?
These specialists diagnose and treat conditions that affect the respiratory system in men and women, as well as children. Pulmonologists have expertise in the following types of respiratory disorders:
- neoplastic, which means having to do with a tumor
In some instances, this extends to the cardiovascular system. Certain conditions, such as pulmonary vascular disease, can first affect the respiratory system but go on to affect other organs in 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 in intensive care units.
What conditions do pulmonologists treat?
Conditions pulmonologists commonly treat include:
- bronchiectasis, a condition that involves inflammation and excess mucus
- bronchitis, which happens when you have inflamed lower airways
- chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which causes an airflow blockage
- emphysema, which happens when the alveoli in your lungs are damaged
- interstitial lung diseases, which affect the space and tissue within the lung
- occupational lung diseases, which can occur due to the inhalation of dusts, chemicals, or proteins
- obstructive sleep apnea, which causes your breathing to slow or stop entirely when you’re sleeping
When should you see a pulmonologist?
If you’re having any unusual symptoms, you should meet with your primary care doctor. They will perform a medical exam and assess your overall condition. They may refer you to a pulmonologist if you:
- have difficulty breathing
- have a persistent cough
- regularly cough up blood or mucus
- have unexplained weight loss
- have trouble exercising due to breathing problems