Depending on your healthcare insurance coverage, you may be able to go straight to a pulmonologist without needing to see your general practitioner first for a referral. After all, there are certain indicators that make it clear that a visit to a lung doctor is in order.
The following signs and symptoms should prompt you to see a pulmonary doctor as soon as possible:
1. You Have a Persistent Cough that Isn’t Getting Better
A cough can begin during any type of respiratory infection, including viral, bacterial, or fungal infections. A chronic cough can also be a symptom of lung cancer.
A skilled pulmonary doctor can give you a quick assessment and put you on the path to treatment and recovery. The sooner you have the cough treated, the better it will be for your overall health.
2. You Get Out of Breath Easily with Mild Physical Activity
If you find yourself getting out of breath more easily than before or even when you’re doing routine activities, it may indicate that you have a lung issue. This symptom may indicate bronchitis, arrhythmia, allergies, low oxygen levels, asthma, pneumonia, congestive heart failure, or cancer.
A pulmonary doctor will review your symptoms and health history, and you will be given recommendations and possibly prescription medication to get your breathing back to normal again. You may also be asked to have an imaging scan so the physician can check the condition of your lungs.
3. You Are a Long-Term Smoker
When you smoke, it eventually turns your lungs from a healthy pink color to a dark gray color. Smoking can destroy the alveoli in your lungs, which are the tiny air sacs that exchange carbon dioxide with fresh oxygen. If these air sacs are depleted, you may develop emphysema, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), chronic bronchitis, and lung cancer.
As many as 90% of lung cancer cases are attributed to smoking. Every smoker should have a pulmonary doctor who will keep tabs on their lung health.
4. You Have Asthma
Asthma occurs when your airways constrict, making it hard for you to breathe. You may wheeze, cough, or have tightness in the chest – especially if you are engaging in some sort of physical activity.
If you have asthma that seems to be getting worse or is periodically severe, it is in your best interest to be partnered with an experienced pulmonologist who can help you keep your asthma under control.
5. You Have Breathing Problems Accompanied by Foot or Leg Swelling
You should seek an evaluation by a lung specialist if you have shortness of breath or other breathing problems along with swelling in your ankle, leg, or foot. These symptoms could indicate pulmonary edema (the accumulation of fluid in your lungs) or pulmonary hypertension (high blood pressure in the arteries in your lungs).
Pulmonary Physician in Manatee County and Sarasota, FL
If you have any of these symptoms or other issues associated with your lungs or breathing, a pulmonologist can help. A lung doctor here at Intercoastal Medical Group will thoroughly evaluate your issue and give you an accurate diagnosis – and prescribe treatment that works for you.
If you have any questions or would like to schedule an appointment with a skilled pulmonary doctor on our medical team, contact our friendly staff today by calling our location near you or by filling out our appointment request form online now. We look forward to being your partner in healthy breathing!