Pulmonology is a branch of medicine which is concerned with the
function of the respiratory system, including the lungs and bronchial
tubes. It is usually considered a specialty within the larger field of
internal medicine, although pulmonology also intersects with intensive
care, emergency care, and cardiothoracic surgery. Specialists in this
field are known as pulmonologists, and they may work in hospital
settings, clinics, and outpatient practices.
A number of conditions can be assessed and treated by a
pulmonologist, including hereditary conditions which affect the lungs,
lung trauma, chronic conditions, acquired diseases, infections, and
cancers. Specialists in this field are usually focused on keeping the
airway open so that patients can breathe freely. Keeping the airway open
also makes the patient more comfortable, giving the doctor time to
develop a treatment plan to manage or treat the condition which has
caused impaired lung function.
Specialists in pulmonology are usually consulted when it becomes
evident that a patient has a lung problem. While other doctors can treat
lung conditions, pulmonary specialists have years of experience working
with the lungs, and they are usually informed about the latest and most
effective treatments. Some doctors choose to specialize in the
management of a particular pulmonary condition, like cystic fibrosis or
asthma, developing treatment plans which are tailored to their patients.
Others work more generally in pulmonology to provide a variety of
treatments which can range from administrations of medication to
management of a mechanical ventilator.