Pulmonology is a branch of medicine and a subspecialty of internal medicine. It specialises in the treatment of diseases that affect the respiratory system. It deals with all disorders of the lungs, upper airways, thoracic cavity, and the chest wall. It also deals with all problems that involve the nose, pharynx, larynx, trachea, bronchi, bronchioles, and alveoli.
Pulmonology is also part of intensive care medicine because it involves providing life support and mechanical ventilation to patients who need them. It is also known as pneumology and respiratory medicine. Its subspecialties include:
Doctors who specialise in pulmonology are called pulmonologists. Those who specialise in treating young patients are called paediatric pulmonologists. In addition, those who perform lung surgery for the treatment of lung diseases are called thoracic surgeons.
Most respiratory problems can be treated by general physicians, doctors specialising in internal medicine, and paediatricians. The expertise of pulmonologists become necessary if the patient has an unknown and undiagnosed disorder. Their services are also required in the management of unusual and complicated respiratory diseases.
In the course of their work, pulmonologists deal with several different types of lung disorders, including:
In some cases, respiratory diseases affect the cardiovascular system. Thus, pulmonologists are usually part of a multi-disciplinary team of doctors working together to manage a patient’s condition.
Pulmonologists use a variety of tests and procedures to diagnose pulmonary diseases. These include:
Some tests are used specifically for diagnosing lung disorders. These include:
In treating diagnosed patients, pulmonologists use:
These techniques make up a pulmonary rehabilitation plan, which is carried out by a rehabilitation team as well as the patient’s family. The plan may also involve exercise, emotional support, and other necessary actions to help patients have a good quality of life.
Patients should see a pulmonologist if they:
The following symptoms should also prompt patients to see a pulmonologist:
Patients who meet the following risk factors should also see a pulmonologist:
Most patients also do so upon the referral of their primary care physician when serious pulmonary disease is suspected.
Some examples of respiratory and lung diseases are:
Some of these diseases are called occupational lung disease because they occur due to the nature of the patient’s work. Some types of jobs put patients at risk of lung problems due to the inhalation of dust, chemicals, and proteins.
Some diseases are also chronic disorders that may affect a person throughout his life. These diseases require continuous pulmonary management to prevent potential complications from arising.
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