A pulmonologist is a medical expert in treating patients with lung conditions and breathing issues. Moreover, they evaluate the condition of the trachea, nose, and throat in addition to the rest of the respiratory system. Most people see a pulmonologist, when their primary care physician recommends them to a pulmonologist, sometimes referred to as a lung specialist, for examination or treatment. If you are hospitalized for a severe lung ailment, you may still see this doctor. Here are a few of the common causes for why you might need to see a pulmonary doctor in Michigan’s top-rated lung and sleep center.
An inflammatory, long-lasting lung condition is known as asthma. Although it can affect anyone at any age, it most frequently affects young children. People suffering from asthma have reactive airways, which means that when particular triggers like pet dander, pollen, cigarette smoke, and physical activity are present, their airways narrow, tighten, and inflame.
Coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, and chest tightness are all signs of an asthma attack. Extensive control medications are used to treat the disease, and emergency or rescue medications are used to treat flare-ups.
2. COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease)
Emphysema and chronic bronchitis are also included in COPD. People who have a persistent habit of smoking heavily for a long time are frequently affected. COPD is a progressive illness and a main cause of disability. People with COPD have difficulty breathing as a result of ongoing pathologic alterations to their lungs and airways. Shortness of breath, wheezing, chest tightness, and a chronic, long-standing cough that frequently produces a lot of mucus are all symptoms of COPD.
For COPD management, quitting smoking is essential. Medication aids in controlling symptoms. Some people need a surplus amount of oxygen to go about their daily lives or to sleep.
3. Cystic Fibrosis
Cystic fibrosis, or CF, affects the glands that produce sweat or mucus in the body. Lung, upper respiratory, digestive, sexual, and skin glands are included in this. Children inherit defective genes from their parents, making it a genetic disease. The presence of thick, sticky mucus in the respiratory tract causes symptoms. Recurrent respiratory infections and coughing up thick mucus are two symptoms that might eventually harm the lungs. A pulmonary doctor should handle CF treatment due to the possibility of serious and life-threatening lung illness.
4. Lung cancer
The third most frequent malignancy in both men and women is lung cancer. The biggest risk factor for developing it is smoking. In fact, smoking cigarettes, cigars, or pipes accounts for 90% of lung cancer cases.
Tumors from lung cancer can spread rapidly without causing any pain or discomfort. By the time symptoms become apparent, lung cancer is typically fairly advanced. They may consist of:
- A cough that persists, worsens or transforms into a chronic cough
- Chest pain that gets worse when you cough, laugh or take deep breaths
- Exhaling blood
- Breathing difficulty
During and after cancer treatment, a pulmonologist and oncologist collaborate with patients to address lung issues.
5. Lung Infections
Simple and particular lung infections like bronchitis can usually be treated by your primary care physician. However, pulmonary doctors are frequently needed for complex lung infections. This includes diseases like pneumonia and TB. If you are suffering from other chronic diseases like COPD or heart disease, or if your bronchitis is difficult to cure. Lung infections also encompass other systemic conditions.
6. Pulmonary embolism
An artery in the lung is blocked by a blood clot, which results in pulmonary embolism (PE). The blood clot typically forms in a vein in the leg. It separates and makes its way through the blood to the lungs, where it lodges. Breathing difficulties, chest pain, shortness of breath, and coughing that may produce blood are all possible symptoms. Pulmonary embolism can be lethal if not treated right away. Medication and other therapies may need to be continued for six months or longer for PE patients. The best people to diagnose and treat any respiratory problems following PE are pulmonologists.
7. Sleep Apnea
Your breathing may stop numerous times throughout the night if you have sleep apnea. The pauses might be brief or prolonged. A snort or choking sound commonly signals the start of breathing again. Even though it is a frequent sleep condition, most affected individuals are unaware of it. Sleep apnea can have many different causes. All of them cause a lesser amount of oxygen to enter your lungs and then your blood. Most patients with sleep apnea can control it with specialized and executive mouthpieces and breathing apparatus. Surgery might be advantageous and work for some people.
Based on your symptomatic history, a physical examination, and sometimes a sleep assessment, doctors can determine if you have sleep apnea. and if you need relevant treatment or not.
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How do pulmonologists diagnose disorders of the lungs?
To make a certain diagnosis about the lungs, pulmonary doctors use and interpret the results of examinations and tests. They may employ the following exams and tests.
- CT scan to obtain detailed images of the bones, muscles, fat, organs, and blood vessels in your chest
- Ultrasound to examine the organs and related structures of the chest
- Pulmonary function test, which is a breathing test that determines how well your lungs are functioning
- pulse oximetry test to reveal the oxygen saturation level of your blood
- Pleural biopsy to eliminate a small tissue sample from the pleura
- Bronchoscopy to analyze your airway and determine if you have any issues in your windpipe, lower airways, throat, or voice box
- Sleep study to assist in the diagnosis of sleep disorders such as sleep apnea
What kinds of medical procedures do pulmonary doctors perform?
Some medical procedures a pulmonologist may perform include the following.
- Thoracentesis – to eliminate fluid or air from the pleural space around the lungs
- Tracheal or bronchial stent placement – to aid in opening up areas such as the windpipe or bronchi
In the case of more serious lung diseases and conditions, a pulmonary doctor may send you to a chest surgeon. A chest surgeon is expected to perform procedures such as a lung transplant or a lobectomy to remove a portion of a diseased lung.
Why should you see a pulmonologist?
If you are suffering or having any unusual or worrisome respiratory symptoms, meet with your primary care physician if you have one. They will perform a medical exam and assess your overall medical condition. They may refer you to a pulmonologist if you have the following symptoms.
- Stressful or difficulty breathing
- Wheezing breath
- Chronic or persistent cough
- Frequently coughing up blood or mucus
- Uncalled and unexplained weight loss
- Struggled exercising due to breathing problems
Conclusion – Where can you find a pulmonologist?
By the year 2022, approximately 12,000 pulmonologists were thought to be in active practice in the US, and 90.3% of adults resided within 20 miles of a pulmonary doctor.
One of the first steps you can take if you believe you might need to see a pulmonologist is to request a referral from your primary care doctor. If you have insurance, it may be necessary to obtain a referral before seeing a specialist like a pulmonologist, depending on your insurance plan.
Once you have the referral, find out if the pulmonary doctor is covered by your insurance. Whether or not, check with your insurance company to see if any pulmonologists are included in your plan’s network.
The American Board of Internal Medicine will certify every pulmonary doctor who works in the country. To assist in focusing your search and finding the pulmonologist who may be the greatest fit for you, you can, if necessary, consult online doctor reviews and get treated by a certified pulmonary doctor in the US.
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