General Practice 2022

Pneumologist: what é, what he does and when to consult

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Pneumologist: what é, what he does and when to consult
Pneumologist: what é, what he does and when to consult

The pulmonologist is the doctor specialized in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases and disorders related to the respiratory system, such as pneumonia, bronchitis, tuberculosis, cystic fibrosis and asthma, for example.

In the consultation with the pulmonologist, the doctor may perform the auscultation of the lungs and heart, to check for the presence of noises, in addition to indicating the performance of imaging tests, such as chest X-ray, in addition to exams laboratory tests and other tests according to the signs and symptoms presented by the person.

It is important that the pulmonologist is consulted when the person has very intense respiratory symptoms or for a long period, such as difficulty breathing, rapid breathing, pain when breathing, chest pain, dry cough or with phlegm and feeling of shortness of breath, for example.

Diseases treated by the pulmonologist

The pulmonologist is the doctor responsible for diagnosing and treating changes that affect the respiratory system, the main ones being:

  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), which happens due to inflammation or chronic obstruction of the lining of the bronchi or bronchioles, making it difficult to exchange gases for breathing;
  • Occupational lung disease, which is a respiratory disorder caused by the inhalation of toxins due to work performed;
  • COVID-19, as it is a situation in which respiratory functions can be compromised, and the treatment is also carried out in conjunction with the infectious disease specialist;
  • Asthma, which is chronic inflammation of the lungs in which a person has difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, and a feeling of pressure in the chest;
  • Acute bronchitis, which is inflammation of the bronchi, which are structures present in the lungs, which can be caused by a common flu, cold or other respiratory infection, lasting approximately 1 to 3 weeks;
  • Pneumonia,which is a respiratory disease caused by a virus, bacteria or fungi, which leads to inflammation of the lungs, as well as accumulation of fluid within the pulmonary alveoli;
  • Bronchiectasis, which is a disease characterized by the dilatation of the bronchi and is usually associated with other conditions, such as cystic fibrosis or pulmonary emphysema, for example;
  • Tuberculosis, which is an infectious disease caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis, which can remain in the lungs and lead to respiratory symptoms;
  • Pulmonary hypertension, which corresponds to increased pressure in the blood vessels reaching the lungs, which may be caused by an increase in the stiffness of the pulmonary arteries or by some obstruction caused by clots;
  • Cystic fibrosis, which is a genetic disease in which there is an increase in the production and thickness of respiratory secretions, which accumulate in the lungs;
  • Interstitial lung disease, which is a group of diseases that cause inflammation or scarring of the lungs, making it difficult to get oxygen;
  • Sleep apnea, which corresponds to the momentary stop of breathing during sleep, resulting in snoring and little relaxing rest.

In addition, the pulmonologist specializing in oncology may also be responsible for treating lung cancer or performing lung transplants.

When to make an appointment

It is recommended to consult a pulmonologist when signs and symptoms that may indicate respiratory changes are observed, such as:

  • Cough that does not improve after 3 weeks;
  • Cough with blood or phlegm;
  • Chest pain or feeling of pressure;
  • Dizziness, vertigo or fainting;
  • Difficulty breathing, especially during exercise;
  • Excessive fatigue;
  • Wheezing when breathing;
  • Frequent cold.

Thus, it is important that the pulmonologist be consulted as soon as the first signs and symptoms are noticed, especially if the person smokes frequently, so that tests are carried out, the cause of the symptoms is identified and, thus, it is possible start the most appropriate treatment.

What is the query like

In general, during the consultation, the pulmonologist evaluates the signs and symptoms presented by the person, their medical and family history, in addition to auscultation of the lungs and heart in order to identify the presence of any breathing noise.

In addition, to identify the cause of symptoms, the doctor may recommend performing some tests, such as spirometry, oximetry, blood tests, chest radiography, computed tomography, bronchoscopy, ultrasound and/or pleural biopsy, for example.

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