Healthy Living

Pneumonia: Visiting a Lung Specialist

Pneumonia: Visiting a Lung Specialist

Key Takeaways

  • Pneumonia is an infection that is mostly caused by bacteria, viruses, or fungi.
  • Visiting a lung specialist, which is also called as a pulmonologist, is an important step to take for any person who has pneumonia. 
  • A lung specialist is in charge of examining a person and diagnosing any lung infections or diseases. 

For people who have pneumonia, it is important to visit a lung specialist for proper guidance on how to treat and prevent the disease. Most people do not visit a specialist until the problem has become more serious, which can be dangerous. However, there are a number of things you should know before you decide to visit a lung specialist.

What is pneumonia?

Pneumonia refers to an infection of the lungs. This lung disease affects a person’s lung tissues and leads to a number of symptoms, which are not only disturbing but also painful. A pneumonia infection affects the alveoli and causes inflammation that leads to a difficulty in breathing.

Pneumonia facts

Pneumonia is an infection that is mostly caused by bacteria, viruses, or fungi. However, the infection can also be caused by different chemicals, which sometimes get into the body through inhalation. Lung cancer can also be a cause of pneumonia where people with lung cancer are at a very high risk of getting the infection.

Although pneumonia can be a very dangerous and fatal chest infection, most of the people who have the infection get better within a short amount of time. Nevertheless, the infection can also be a severe one. In most pneumonia cases, a person can remain infected for a prolonged period of time, sometimes eight weeks or more. A pneumonia of this type requires hospitalization for an effective treatment.

Symptoms to look for before visiting a lung specialist

Before you think of visiting a lung specialist, you must know when there is a need to take such step. Getting to the doctor early is important for all health problems. Lung complications such as pneumonia can be fatal, which require immediate medical attention as soon as the signs and symptoms are identified. Pneumonia can be accompanied by other dangerous lung problems, which makes it important to visit a lung specialist anytime you know that you have the infection.

To know if you have pneumonia or any other lung infection, look for the following symptoms:

  • Coughing -  can either be mild or persistent depending on the person's condition. Coughing can also worsen during the night or once a person comes into contact with something cold.
  • Chills - chills are experienced even during a sunny day and at night when you have pneumonia. 
  • Chest pains -  are pains that occur more frequently, causing a tremendous discomfort. You will also experience chest pains whenever you cough, laugh, or take a deep breath.
  • Mucus production from coughing - is mostly an uncontrollable symptom
  • Breathing difficulties - happen when the air sacs of your lungs are filled with fluid or pus.
  • Feveris one of the most common symptoms of pneumonia. Fever develops when your body is fighting an infection.

Other symptoms that can be associated with lung complications include:

  • loss of appetite
  • loss of energy
  • weight loss
  • feeling fatigued
  • a change in the color of the mucus (from clear to yellow or green)
  • headaches
  • excessive sweating
  • confusion
  • shaking

If you experience such symptoms, it is advised to visit a lung specialist as soon as possible.

What to expect from a lung specialist?

Visiting a lung specialist, which is also called as a pulmonologist, is an important step to take for any person who has pneumonia. A lung specialist is a type of qualified medical doctor whose specialization is lung function.

A lung specialist is in charge of examining a person and diagnosing any lung infections or diseases. The specialist is also responsible for carrying out tests to identify the effects of any lung infection in a person, recommends the right treatment, or carrying out certain procedures if needed. A pulmonologist also gives advice about the best lifestyle habitsto prevent and help people with lung infections.

Here are some of the objectives of a lung specialist that can help you know what to expect:

  1. Examine the symptoms of any lung infection.
  2. Identify the causes of the lung infection.
  3. Identify other underlying infections of the lungs.
  4. Provide the best treatment guideline for the patient.
  5. Giving the right advice to people with pneumonia.

For a lung specialist to accomplish objectives listed above and many more, here are some of the questions that you may be asked:

  • When did your symptoms begin?
  • Are your symptoms occasional or continuous?
  • Are you experiencing severe or mild symptoms?
  • What are the exact symptoms that you are experiencing?
  • Can you describe your cough?
  • Have you been diagnosed with any chest or lung problem before?
  • How do you feel when you take deep breaths?
  • Is there anything that seems to worsen or improve your symptoms?
  • Have you been taking any medications? If yes, what are those medications?

Tests to Expect from a Lung Specialist

Upon visiting a lung specialist, you may also undergo a number of tests as a way of diagnosing any suspected lung infections. These tests can be different but they are geared towards the identification of any underlying infections that cannot be ruled out by your symptoms. These tests are also meant to confirm the type of infection and assess the severity of the lung infection. One of the diseases that can be identified through these tests is lung cancer.

Such tests may include:

  • X-ray - An X-ray is done to see if there's a possibility of a lung infection such as pneumonia. After undergoing an X-ray, your doctor is also able to assess how much the infection has spread. An X-ray is done on the chest. An X-ray film can also present other lung infections and their effects on the lungs.
  • Blood Test - A blood test is done to determine whether a person has pneumonia. This test is accomplished to identify the type of organism that is causing the infection. A lung infection can have a bacterial, viral, or fungal in origin.
  • CT scan - is a special imaging test that you might expect from a lung specialist to examine the possibility of lung cancer. The test is also known to give finer details of the disease.

Questions to Ask a Lung Specialist

Apart from expecting a variety of input from a lung specialist, it is also important to have your questions ready so that you can ask the doctor and make the experience more enlightening. Questions may include:

  • Do I have pneumonia?
  • Are there other underlying infections?
  • How severe are the effects in my lungs?
  • What can I do to reduce the symptoms?
  • Are there home remedies to deal with the condition?
  • How can I prevent lung complications?
  • What are the best treatment measures for pneumonia?
  • When should I come back for a follow-up?

The Bottom Line

Pneumonia is a lung-related infection that can be a serious threat to your heath, especially if not diagnosed early and in the right way. Once you identify certain symptoms that can be associated with the lung infection, it is important to consult a specialist.

Consulting a specialist not only helps in the identification of pneumonia, but it also helps in finding out other infections that are related to the lungs such as cancer. A proper consultation with a doctor can also help you in knowing the scope of the effects caused by the infection.

Build a good relationship with your lung specialist by asking and answering questions. By doing so, it will help you to fully benefit from all the services that they offer. Once you have visited a lung specialist, there will be a need for a follow-up appointment to ensure your healthy recovery from the disease.