What Can I Expect at a Pulmonologist Visit?

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A pulmonologist is a medical doctor who is uniquely trained to diagnose and treat conditions that impact the respiratory system, which includes the lungs, trachea, bronchi, pharynx and other organs that help you breathe. Your primary care doctor may refer you to a pulmonologist if you have trouble breathing, a persistent cough or symptoms of a chronic respiratory condition, or if you are a smoker.

The details of your visit may vary based on your specific symptoms, overall health and care preferences. In general, though, here’s a brief overview of what you can expect at your pulmonologist appointment:

  • Detailed questions regarding your current health and medical history, including smoking habits, previous surgeries, recent vaccinations, major health conditions and family medical history
  • A review of basic health characteristics, including height, weight, temperature, blood pressure and oxygen levels
  • A physical exam, which may involve checking for signs of low oxygen levels, swelling and reduced blood circulation
  • Diagnostic testing in accordance with your symptoms—this may include a spirometry test, chest X-ray, CT scan or exercise oximetry test

It’s also a good idea to bring these items to your pulmonology appointment or send them electronically, if applicable:

  • Pulmonary function test results
  • Results from X-rays and other imaging tests
  • Bloodwork results
  • A list of any medications and supplements you are taking, along with the dosage and prescribing physician

In addition, consider making a list of any questions you would like to ask your pulmonologist during your visit.

What Conditions Do Pulmonologists Treat?

Pulmonologists treat a wide array of diseases and disorders that affect the respiratory system, including but not limited to:

  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Asthma
  • Bronchitis
  • Pneumonia
  • Pulmonary hypertension
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Sarcoidosis
  • Pleural effusion
  • Emphysema
  • Lung tumors

When Should I See a Pulmonologist?

If any of these scenarios apply to you, it may be time to consult with a pulmonologist:

  • You have a cough that is intense, produces blood or mucus or has persisted for more than three weeks. (If you have been diagnosed or think you have COVID-19 start with your primary care doctor. If you are having trouble breathing, seek care immediately.)
  • You have mild chest pain or tightness (if chest pain is severe, call 911 immediately).
  • You have labored breathing, especially during physical activity.
  • You frequently get bronchitis.
  • You have difficulty managing your asthma.
  • You experience wheezing.
  • You frequently experience shortness of breath, dizziness and fatigue.
  • You are a smoker.

Pulmonology at Tufts Medical Center Community Care

Tufts Medical Center Community Care brings world-class pulmonology services to residents of north suburban Boston. Our multispecialty medical group includes skilled pulmonologists who offer the latest advances in care, including precision diagnostics, minimally invasive procedures and progressive treatments. Smoking cessation programs are also available to our patients, as well as asthma and COPD education programs.

Contact Tufts Medical Center Community Care to learn more about our approach to lung health or to schedule an appointment. Our medical group accepts most health insurance plans, including Medicare, Medicaid and Tricare. Telemedicine services are also available to eligible patients—give us a call to learn if telemedicine is appropriate for your situation.

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