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What are Pulmonary Physicians?

Doctors and Medical Specialties

Pulmonary physicians are doctors who diagnose and treat lung diseases. These doctors are sometimes referred to as pulmonologists, pneumologists, respirologists, chest doctors, or respiratory doctors. Pulmonary medicine is a sub-specialty of internal medicine which requires a medical school degree, a three year residency program, and a fellowship in a pulmonary sub-specialty. They are trained in internal medicine, lungs, and the cardio-pulmonary system which is the lungs, heart, blood vessels, and all the organs that help a person breathe.

Pulmonary physicians treat breathing disorders, chronic cough, severe allergies, asthma, sleep disorders, tuberculosis, lung abscesses, certain types of cancer, and lung diseases such as cystic fibrosis. They work in a variety of settings including medical offices, emergency care, and cardiothoracic surgery.

Pulmonologists are consulted by primary caregivers when a patient shows symptoms of a lung problem. Symptoms often include shortness of breath, wheezing, chest pain, and a persistent cough. Diagnosing lung diseases involves a variety of techniques such as pulmonary function tests and medical imaging. Once a diagnosis has been given, treatments of medication and/or pulmonary rehabilitation ensue. Rehabilitation is limited to patients who have decreased respiratory function or show little sign of improvement with medicine.

Pulmonary Physicians help patients who:

  • Smoke
  • Are overweight
  • Have hypertension
  • Have been exposed to asbestos, sawdust, or toxic chemicals
  • Have diabetes or other diseases that may impact the lungs

If you make an appointment with a pulmonary physician, be sure to bring the following information:

  • Family history
  • Information on any past or current medical problems like allergies, asthma, or cancer
  • Personal history (smoking, occupational hazards, pets, childhood diseases)
  • Medical records, x-rays, and test results
  • List of current medications

Be sure your pulmonary physician is a licensed physician and look for board certification, experience treating patients with your symptoms, and a good doctor-patient relationship.

Related topics: Cardiology, Oncology

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