Pulmonary Medicine Frequently Asked Questions

What is Pulmonary Medicine?

Pulmonary medicine is a subspecialty of internal medicine that focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the respiratory tract. A pulmonologist has expertise in the evaluation of patients with breathlessness, cough, wheezing, and chest tightness, as well as abnormalities of the chest x-ray, chest CT scan and other chest imaging studies. Disorders frequently diagnosed and managed by a pulmonologist include:

  • Asthma
  • Emphysema
  • Chronic Bronchitis
  • Obstructive Sleep Apnea
  • Sarcoidosis
  • Occupational Lung Disease
  • Pneumonia
  • Lung Cancer and Tumors
  • Pulmonary Hypertension
  • Respiratory Failure
  • Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis

An initial visit to the pulmonologist begins with a thorough review of the patient’s medical history and pulmonary symptoms followed by a detailed physical examination with special attention to the respiratory system. The pulmonologist reviews all other available information such as prior laboratory or imaging studies. Next, the pulmonologist usually renders a preliminary opinion to the patient as to what disease processes may be present. Further diagnostic testing may be requested (see below) and treatment recommendations may be made.

If necessary, follow up visits may be required to review results of diagnostic testing or assess response to new therapies. The pulmonologist works closely with the patient’s primary care provider to assure optimal management of diseases of the respiratory tract.

Please consult the following pages for additional information: