I felt my lungs inflate with the onrush of scenery — air, mountains, trees, people. I thought, "This is what it is to be happy.” - Sylvia Plath

Pulmonology

Did you know that over 50 million people worldwide suffer from chronic or severe lung and respiratory diseases, making it one of the leading causes of death?

Pulmonology is a speciality that deals with complex, unusual or difficult to manage respiratory illnesses, involving the lungs, upper respiratory tract, windpipe and chest. Some pulmonologists may even specialise in a specific lung disease such as asthma, pulmonary fibrosis and COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease).

So, if you have trouble breathing, have an acute lung or chest infection, or have a chronic condition such as asthma or any other respiratory allergies, – a pulmonologist is the type of specialist you may need to see. Patients in intensive care units who need manual ventilation support or life support also always have a pulmonologist involved in their intensive care unit.

While a primary care physician can help you deal with day-to-day illnesses such as a common cold or cough, when you face serious or chronic breathing problems, you will need to be under the care of a pulmonologist to treat and manage the condition.

Let’s look at what pulmonologists would do to help you deal with complex respiratory problems.

What diseases or conditions do pulmonologists treat?

Conditions of the lung or the respiratory tract that pulmonologists are usually brought in to treat and manage are:

  • Asthma
  • Sleep apnea
  • COPD
  • Acute respiratory failure
  • Pneumonia
  • Tuberculosis
  • Emphysema
  • Lung cancer
  • Interstitial lung disease
  • Pleural infections
  • Pulmonary hypertension
  • Cystic fibrosis

As you can see from the list above, a pulmonologist needs to be consulted for severe or chronic breathing conditions or lung diseases. 

When to see a pulmonologist?

 If the breathing problems persist for over 3-4 weeks in spite of treatment from the primary care physician, then you would need to consult a pulmonologist for more advanced diagnosis, management or treatment. Certain clinical signs are indicative of the need for advanced care. If you or your loved ones have any of the symptoms listed below in spite of being under the care of a primary care physician, it may be advisable to see a pulmonologist immediately.

  • Chest pain of unknown origin
  • Tightness in the chest
  • Difficulty in breathing, especially after physical effort or exercise
  • Shortness of breath or breathlessness without physical effort or at rest
  • Snoring or shortness of breath while sleeping
  • Wheezing or severe, uncontrolled asthma
  • Recurring cold or chronic bronchitis
  • Persistent cough or coughing up blood or discoloured mucus
  • High fever with chest congestion

If you have any of the above or are not satisfied with the treatment or symptomatic relief you are getting with your general practice doctor, make sure you visit a pulmonary specialist. Don’t take any chances with your health or the health and well-being of your loved ones.

Who is at risk for pulmonary diseases?

Certain factors put you at higher risk of developing serious breathing problems or lung diseases.

  • People who have had prolonged exposure to toxic chemicals
  • People who have had prolonged exposure to fibrous materials like sawdust, coal
  • People who have had long-term exposure to minerals such as asbestos or lead
  • Those with chronic or uncontrolled respiratory allergies or asthma
  • Those with a family history of lung diseases such as lung cancer or thoracic cancer, COPD or Interstitial lung disease
  • Those with an early childhood history of severe respiratory illnesses
  • Those with pets at home despite having pet-related allergies
  • Prior medical history of severe infections like pneumonia or tuberculosis
  • Prior medical history of pleural fluid build-up or pleural infections
  • Obese people or those with excessive fats around the neck and chest area

So, you feel you may be at risk for lung disease, how do you now find advanced care with a pulmonologist?  

How to find a pulmonologist?

At Medcare, we have an online directory of doctors and specialists which you can also search through to find a reputed and experienced pulmonologist.

It is important to find the best care for yourself and your loved ones, especially when faced with a severe or chronic respiratory condition. So, make sure you look for reliability and insist on getting the expertise and attention you deserve in your medical care.

Procedures & tools used by pulmonologists

When you visit a pulmonologist, she or he may first need to arrive at or reconfirm your diagnosis. This may involve diagnostic tests and procedures such as:

  • Blood tests
  • CT scan
  • Chest X-ray
  • Sleep study
  • Spirometry – a pulmonary function test or breathing function test
  • Bronchoscopy – a procedure which uses a scope (a camera mounted on a thin tube) which is introduced through the nose or mouth and can give the pulmonologist a visual of the airways, windpipe, throat, and lungs

Sometimes, apart from diagnosis, interventional pulmonology can also be used to impart some treatment – for example, endoscopy may be used to remove secretions or tissue (for biopsy) from the lungs less invasively, rather than opting for invasive surgery.

Integrated Care

Lung diseases tend to be chronic, long-term or complicated with other conditions. Therefore, you need integrated and comprehensive care with a team of specialists providing diagnosis, a well-designed treatment plan, interventional procedures as required, as well as long-term maintenance and follow-up. This means that pulmonologists need to work with other specialists like cardiologists, allergists, pathologists, radiologists, thoracic surgeons, rehabilitative therapists, and intensive care specialists. Pulmonologists are required to be available not just in outpatient clinics, but also in hospital wards, on the operation theatre floor as well as in intensive care units.

At Medcare, we have teams of highly specialised doctors and surgeons providing integrated and comprehensive care for a wide spectrum of lung and respiratory illnesses including critical care and rehabilitative care for chronic conditions. Our multidisciplinary approach to pulmonary disease and comprehensive patient care is comparable to the best medical care in the world.

To meet a pulmonology specialist at Medcare book an appointment in less than a minute.