1. What is a Pulmonologist?
A doctor who is specialized in diagnosis and treatment of respiratory system diseases is called as pulmonologist. The respiratory system include the airway (all organs that carry air to lungs from body's outside environment), the lungs and the muscles for respiration.
2. What type of respiratory problems can a Pulmonologist treat?
Pulmonologists can treat lung or airway inflammation, blocked lung airways, damage to lung alveoli and lung diseases occurred due to inhalation of dust chemical or smoking, genetic diseases of the lung like cystic fibrosis, tuberculosis, asthma, bronchitis.
3. When do you need to visit a Pulmonologist?
You should visit a pulmonologist if you are facing breathing difficulties, having cough from a long time, have blood or mucus in cough, sudden weight loss due to unknown reasons and have severe breathing problem while doing daily activities or exercising.
4. What tests wil a Pulmonologist do for a check up?
Pulmonologists will perform different tests depending up on your problem. These may include CT scan, chest ultrasound, chest X-ray, pulse oximetry test, pleural biopsy, bronchoscopy (to examine airway), breathing test (pulmonary function test) to check functioning of lungs and sleep study to detect sleep disorder.
5. What is the difference between a Pulmonologist and chest surgeon?
Pulmonologists will diagnose and treat respiratory system related disorders but if you are having a serious lung disease then you will be referred to chest surgeon to remove affected lung part or for a lung transplant.
Pulmonology is a subspecialty of internal medicine. This branch of medicine deals with the functioning of lungs and disorders associated with them. Pulmonologists can treat a number of conditions such as asthma, bronchitis, asbestosis, occupational lung disease, pulmonary fibrosis, etc. they can also provide long term treatment and care for patients who need mechanical ventilation and life support. Most pulmonologists do not perform surgery but they may perform small procedures to collect samples from inside the lungs or chest for tests.
You should consult a pulmonologist if you are suffering from any respiratory condition that cannot be treated by a general practitioner. This includes if you cough up blood, have a persistent cough, have difficulty breathing, have unexplained weight loss or have troubling exercising because of breathlessness. Smokers should also consult pulmonologists if they have difficulty breathing.
Some of the sub specialties of pulmonology are interventional pulmonology, interstitial lung disease, lung transplant management, neuromuscular disease, obstructive lung disease or sleep-disordered breathing.
Pulmonologists may charge a consultation fee of Rs 500 upwards. Testing may cost extra.
Pulmonary Function Test – Rs 500 – Rs 2500
CT scan – Rs 500 – Rs 20,000
A computerized tomography (CT) scan helps doctors see cross sectional images of the muscles, soft tissues, bones, blood vessels etc. in the chest cavity. This helps diagnose infections as well as pinpoints the locations of abnormal growths and tumours.
Pulmonary Function Test
This is a set of tests that measure how well the lungs function and their ability to transport oxygen to the rest of the body. It may be used to diagnose conditions such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Pulse Oximetry Test
This is a non-invasive test conducted with the help of a small clip like device that measures the oxygen levels in the person’s blood. It can even detect small changes in how oxygen is carried from the heart to the extremities of the body.
This involves inserting a thin, flexible tube through the throat into the lungs so that the doctor can see the lung tissue.
This procedure is performed when fluid accumulates in the lungs and causes breathing issues. Through this procedure, the fluid is drained. A biopsy may also be conducted simultaneously to understand what may be causing this accumulation.