Pulmonology is a subspecialty of internal medicine that focuses on the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disorders and diseases of the respiratory system. Physicians who specialize in providing care for people with such conditions are referred to as pulmonologists.
Let’s get a better insight into the specialty of a pulmonologist by learning about the specific conditions they treat and the diagnostic procedures they perform.
Conditions Treated by Pulmonologists
Pulmonologists specialize in the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of the full spectrum of respiratory conditions, some of which are listed below:
- Respiratory failure (occurs when the blood contains too much carbon dioxide and too little life-giving oxygen)
- Allergies and asthma (hypersensitivities to substances in the environment)
- COPD, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (group of lung conditions characterized by limitations in lung airflow: e.g. emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and non-reversible asthma)
- Pulmonary hypertension (high blood pressure in the blood vessels leading from your heart to your lungs)
- Cystic fibrosis (cystic fibrosis (a progressive, genetic lung disorder that causes damage to the lungs)
- Occupational lung diseases, such as black lung disease (resulting from inhaling coal dust) and asbestosis (caused by inhaling asbestos fibers)
As mentioned, your pulmonologist also provides preventive care, helping you reduce your risk of developing pulmonary conditions by promoting:
- Healthy diet and proper weight management.
- Smoking cessation programs to include alternative therapies and medication aids
- Regular physical activity
- Stress management through health coaching and relaxation techniques
- Routine checkups
Diagnostic Procedures Pulmonologists Use
Depending on your symptoms and the suspected pulmonary condition, your pulmonologist may use any or a combination of the following procedures to confirm a diagnosis. Some of the diagnostic procedures that pulmonologists perform include:
- Chest X-rays- This is one of the first procedures your pulmonologist will likely order when they suspect a lung condition. Chest X-rays detect signs of cancer or other chronic lung conditions, such as emphysema and cystic fibrosis.
- Pulmonary function test (PFT)– This is a noninvasive test used for gauging the lung capacity, rates of air flow, and the exchange of oxygen and carbon monoxide when you breathe.
- Sleep study– This test is for diagnosing sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea, by evaluating breathing, chest wall motion, heart activity, and oxygen levels during sleep.
- Spirometry– This test is for measuring the volume of air you exhale and at what rate and is geared toward diagnosing asthma.
- Cardiopulmonary stress test– This test allows your pulmonologist to assess how well your heart and lungs are working during physical activity.
- SHAPE (Sub-maximal heart and pulmonary evaluation) testing- This is a noninvasive stress test that utilizes a 5.5-inch-high step on which you will need to step up and down for 3 minutes. SHAPE testing gauges the partial pressure or concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) of your breath, expressed as a percentage of CO2 or mmHg.
When to See a Pulmonologist
If you experience symptoms of a pulmonary condition that don’t respond to basic remedies, it is in your best interest to see a pulmonologist for the appropriate course of treatment:
The following symptoms warrant a visit to a pulmonologist:
- Breathing problems (shortness of breath on exertion)
- Persistent, severe coughing
- Pain when you inhale or exhale
- Unexplained or involuntary weight loss
- Coughing up blood
- Tightness in the chest
- Weakness and fatigue
- Difficulty walking, exercising, or doing activities of daily living
Board-Certified Pulmonologist in Weatherford, TX
At Lung & Sleep Specialists of North Texas, our board-certified pulmonologist, Dr. Olusegun Oseni, is committed to providing comprehensive care, helping our patients effectively manage their condition and live a good quality of life.