What To Expect When You Visit A Pulmonologist For The First Time

If you've been referred to see a pulmonologist, it's because your doctor has determined that you have a respiratory problem that needs specialized care. A pulmonologist is a doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating problems with the lungs and airways (via Cleveland Clinic). If this is your first time visiting a pulmonologist, here's what you can expect.

The first thing a pulmonologist will do is take a thorough medical history. Be prepared to answer questions about your symptoms, how long you've been experiencing them, and any other health conditions you have. The pulmonologist will also want to know if anyone in your family has lung disease. Next, the pulmonologist will do a physical examination. This will include listening to your lungs with a stethoscope and checking your breathing with a spirometer. A spirometer is a machine that measures how much air you can breathe in and out.

After the examination, the pulmonologist may order some tests to confirm or rule out a diagnosis. Common tests include chest x-rays, CT scans, pulmonary function tests, and bronchoscopy. Pulmonary function tests measure how well your lungs are working. Bronchoscopy is a procedure that allows the pulmonologist to look inside your airways and take a biopsy if necessary. Based on the examination and test results, the pulmonologist will make a diagnosis and develop a treatment plan. The treatment plan may include medication, oxygen therapy, pulmonary rehabilitation, or surgery.

Potential causes of lung problems

There are many reasons you may find yourself needing to visit a pulmonologist. Your reason can be simple or complicated. Some common causes of lung issues include asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), pneumonia, and lung cancer (via WebMD). COVID-19 can also cause minor to severe lung damage (via Johns Hopkins Medicine). If you're experiencing shortness of breath, coughing, or wheezing, it's time to see a pulmonologist. Don't wait until your symptoms are severe to get help. A pulmonologist can provide you with the treatment you need to feel better and live a full life. While most people only ever need to see a pulmonologist once or twice, some people with chronic lung disease may need to see a pulmonologist regularly to manage their condition.

You can keep your lungs safe by practicing healthy habits like abstaining from smoking, avoiding exposure to pollutants and toxins, and exercising regularly. If you have a family history of lung disease, it's especially important to take care of your lungs. You may be more likely to develop lung disease if it runs in your family. But even if you don't have a family history of lung disease, you can still take steps to protect your lungs. If you have any concerns about your lungs, or if you experience any symptoms of lung disease, make an appointment to see a pulmonologist. It's always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your health.