A pulmonologist is a physician that specializes in conditions of the lung and respiratory tract including the throat, sinuses, nose, windpipe, or trachea, and sometimes conditions that affect the heart or other structures closely related to the respiratory system.
The word pulmonology, comes from the Latin word “pulmo” which means “lung.” Pulmonology is a subspecialty of internal medicine. Pulmonologists have advanced training in infection, structural, neoplastic (tumors) and inflammatory disorders of the respiratory system.
Most of the time pulmonologists do not perform surgeries, but they can, and do, perform biopsies. A pulmonologist may also be called in to evaluate or treat traumatic injuries to the chest. A pulmonologist may also perform other tests, such as an angiogram, that uses dye to test the arteries that serve the lungs.
When Should You See a Pulmonologist?
There are many reasons to visit a pulmonologist. If you, for instance, suffer from a disease of the lungs such as COPD, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, a progressive disorder which makes breathing difficult, you might be referred to a pulmonologist. Other diseases that a pulmonologist might help to diagnose or treat include asthma, emphysema, pulmonary hypertension, pulmonary embolism, acute bronchitis, pneumonia, cystic fibrosis, obstructive sleep apnea, lung cancer, an acute or chronic cough (a cough that lasts more than three weeks), tuberculosis or other conditions that make it difficult to breathe or utilize oxygen.
Not every patient that has a respiratory system problem will need to see a pulmonologist. If, however, you have a chest injury, are coughing up blood or colored sputum, have complications from a surgical procedure that affects your lungs and your ability to breathe or need to be placed on a ventilator, or have oxygen prescribed to use every day, you may need to be treated by a pulmonologist.
If you have symptoms such as: unexplained chronic coughing or wheezing, ongoing chest pain when you inhale or exhale, bloody or pink sputum, shortness of breath or cough up a lot of mucus, you may need to visit a pulmonologist. Additionally, if you have difficulty sleeping and wake up frequently or have a chronic dry mouth at night or have loud snoring, you may also need to see a pulmonologist to determine if you have sleep apnea.
Most patients are referred to a pulmonologist by their primary care physician or when seen at the emergency room or while hospitalized. To find out more about pulmonology, or our outstanding and caring pulmonologists in Sarasota/Manatee County Florida, please call your Intercoastal Medical Group primary care physician today to determine your need for an appointment with one of our highly qualified pulmonary specialists.