When you think of lung diseases, the first thing that may come to mind is lung cancer. However, many other lung diseases can affect people of all ages. If you are experiencing symptoms that suggest you may have a lung disease, it is essential to see a pulmonologist for diagnosis and treatment. In this blog post, we will discuss how pulmonologists diagnose lung diseases. Stay tuned for more information!
What Is Pulmonology?
Internal medicine is a type of medical care that focuses on adult health. Pulmonology, one of its many fields within this broad category, deals specifically with diseases and disorders related to the respiratory system. This includes the lungs, throat, nose, and sinuses. The term pulmonology comes from “Pulmo,” meaning lung. Pulmonologists diagnose and treat pulmonary problems such as asthma, emphysema, and chronic bronchitis.
What Is The Role Of A Pulmonologist?
Pulmonologists are medical professionals who help diagnose and treat respiratory system diseases like lungs. They often collaborate with other specialists such as pulmonary disease experts or primary care physicians to provide comprehensive wellness services for patients at risk of developing chronic lung ailments like asthma and bronchitis. They also identify patients susceptible to lung cancer to provide treatment before the disease progresses too far.
What Procedures Do Pulmonologists Perform?
Pulmonologists perform various procedures, tests, and exams to provide an accurate diagnosis for their patients. The followings are some of the procedures performed by Pulmonologist:
- Pulmonary hygiene: This procedure helps to clear the airway of mucus and other debris.
- Airway ablation: Pulmonologists use this procedure to remove the larynx (voice box) or bronchus.
- Lung biopsy: Pulmonary experts perform a lung biopsy to find the cause of respiratory problems by extracting tissue samples for microscopic analysis.
- Bronchoscopy: Pulmonologists use this procedure to examine the trachea,
- Lung function tests: These tests measure the amount of air inhaled and exhaled and how well the lungs expel carbon dioxide.
- Chest x-rays: This imaging test produces a detailed image of the lungs and chest area.
What Types Of Tests Do Pulmonologists Use To Diagnose Lung Diseases?
There are several tests that pulmonologists use to diagnose lung diseases. Here are some of the examples:
If you’re experiencing asthma symptoms, such as shortness of breath or rapid heartbeat, then a pulmonologist will look for signs during an exam. They might use hand-held spirometers to measure how much air is being inhaled and exhaled along with peak flow meters that can tell them about any obstructive lung disease. A blood test may also help diagnose conditions like carbon dioxide poisoning from mattress fires!
A pulmonologist may observe the shape and color of your sputum (mucus or phlegm) to quickly diagnose bronchitis, as sometimes it causes a thick greenish-yellow substance. If you’re experiencing any symptoms like cough, fever, and chest pain, they will also conduct a chest X-ray to determine the extent of your condition.
A pulmonologist may use a simple breathing test called spirometry to create lung function profiles that measure how well you’re breathing. They might also request computed tomography (CT) scans, pulmonary function tests, or arterial blood gas analysis to help with diagnosis.
The symptoms of pneumonia can be challenging to distinguish from other illnesses. Patients exhibiting these signs are often asked to undergo chest X-rays, blood work, and pulse oximetry tests. For patients over the age of 60, a pulmonologist may also order CT scans or pleural fluid cultures for further diagnosis/treatment options.
While there is no one definitive test for lung cancer, a pulmonologist will likely order several tests to get a complete picture of the extent of cancer. This might include chest X-rays, CT scans, blood tests, and sputum cytology (a test to examine cells in sputum).
COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease):
The image-guided diagnostics used to diagnose COPD are also effective in identifying emphysema. Usually, a combination of chest X-rays and pulmonary function tests is also taken for this condition. However, there’s no need for blood or sputum samples because they can analyze your airflow through each lung by using an imaging technique called spirometry.
What Are Some Of The Conditions That Pulmonologists Treat?
These are some of the conditions that the Pulmonologist can treat:
– Pulmonary embolism: a blood clot that travels to the lungs and blocks one or more pulmonary arteries. Anticoagulants and thrombolytics treat it.
– Bronchitis: an infection of the mucous membranes that line the bronchi. It’s usually caused by viruses or bacteria and is treated with antibiotics, antivirals, or antifungal medications.
– Pulmonary edema: excess fluid in the lungs that may be described as acute or chronic depending on how quickly it develops. Pulmonary edema can be caused by various issues such as heart failure, pneumonia, and several other lung conditions. Pulmonary edema is treated with diuretics and supplemental oxygen.
– Pulmonary fibrosis: an inflammation or scarring of the lung tissues that make it difficult for patients to breathe. It’s often described as “widespread” and
– Emphysema: a progressive lung disease that makes it difficult to breathe. It is caused by damage to the air sacs in the lungs and is treated with bronchodilators and supplemental oxygen.
– Lung cancer: the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in the lungs. Lung cancer can be treated with surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or a combination of these.
– Pulmonary hypertension: a condition that causes high blood pressure in the arteries between the heart and lungs. Pulmonary hypertension is treated with vasodilators, anticoagulants, or supplemental oxygen.
– Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS): a life-threatening condition that can develop after a severe injury, infection, or heart attack. ARDS results in inflammation and fluid accumulation in the lungs, making breathing difficult. Treatment for ARDS includes mechanical ventilation and oxygen therapy.
– Tuberculosis: a severe lung infection caused by the bacteria Mycobacterium tuberculosis.
– Cystic fibrosis: a chronic, inherited disease that affects the lungs and digestive system. Cystic fibrosis is treated with antibiotics, medications to thin mucus, and chest physical therapy.
Asthma is a chronic lung condition that causes inflammation and narrowing of the airways. Asthma is treated with inhaled corticosteroids and bronchodilators.
-Obstructive sleep apnea: a condition that causes people to stop breathing for brief periods during sleep. Obstructive sleep apnea is treated with a combination of therapies, including nasal CPAP, oral appliances, and surgery.
Why Should You See a Pulmonologist?
You may need to see a Pulmonologist if you have any of these symptoms:
– Difficulty breathing, especially when exercising or at rest. This may be due to COPD, pulmonary hypertension, sleep apnea, or other condition that affects your breathing.
– High blood pressure in the lungs (pulmonary hypertension)
– Exposure to a chemical in the workplace or home that can damage the lungs
– Chest pain
– Coughing up blood
– Sudden onset of shortness of breath, even if you don’t have a history of lung problems.
Pulmonologists are specialists in diagnosing and treating diseases and conditions that affect the lungs. If you have any signs or symptoms related to your lungs, make an appointment to see a Pulmonologist.
At Hunterdon Pulmonary & Sleep Associates, our pulmonologists diagnose lung diseases. We offer a range of services to help you get the proper care for your needs and goals. From diagnostic testing to treatment plans, please find out how we can help with any questions or concerns about your lungs. Contact us today at 908-237-1560 to speak with one of our specialists!