What is Pulmonology?
Pulmonology is a subspecialty that focuses on complex diseases of the lungs. In order to diagnose and treat lung disorders, a pulmonologist may also examine the chest, nose, throat, or heart. However, the main function of pulmonology is to make sure the lungs are functioning well.
Some of the diseases and disorders that might be treated by a pulmonologist include:
Mesothelioma and other lung cancers
A pulmonologist often uses pulmonary function tests, such as spirometry, to measure how well the lungs are able to move air in and out. Pulmonologists are trained to take surgical samples and biopsies when needed, but they do not typically perform surgery. Pulmonologists may provide consultations to other doctors, acute care for sudden illnesses, or regular care for patients with long-term lung disorders.
What is Sleep Medicine?
Sleep medicine is the medical field that deals with the diagnosis and treatment of conditions related to sleep and rest. This can include difficulty sleeping well at night or problems with daytime sleepiness. Sleep medicine specialists treat patients of all ages who need better rest.
When people think of sleep disorders, they often think of insomnia. That’s one kind of sleep disorder, but there are several others. In addition to insomnia, a sleep medicine specialist may treat conditions such as:
Shift work disorder
Circadian rhythm disorder
Severe or recurrent jet lag
Treatments may include medication, light therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, or CPAP therapy. CPAP, which stands for continuous positive airway pressure, is one of the most commonly prescribed treatments. These tiny machines have a tube and mask and blow a stream of air over the face at night, helping patients with snoring or sleep apnea to breathe easily and sleep more soundly.
One important tool often used in sleep medicine is the sleep study or polysomnogram, where patients sleep either in a lab or at home with a monitoring device. The sleep study allows doctors to measure the quality of sleep over an entire night, check for various sleep problems, and identify breathing disorders such as sleep apnea. If performed in a lab, you will arrive and spend the night sleeping in a bed similar to one in a hotel room. You may have electrodes attached to your head and chest to monitor your breathing, oxygen levels, brain waves, and heart rate. Technicians collect the information, which your physician can use to identify and diagnose disorders that have been interrupting your sleep.
Not getting enough rest at night makes you feel terrible, can make it difficult to do the things you need to do, and can even put you at higher risk for physical and mental health problems. Feeling tired all the time can be a huge quality of life issue. If a sleep disorder is preventing you from getting enough rest, a sleep medicine specialist can help you manage the problem so that you have the energy to enjoy your life.
What is Allergy & Immunology?
A physician who specializes in allergies, asthma, and other disorders of the immune system is called an allergist-immunologist or simply an allergist. Allergic reactions can cause a huge number of symptoms in the body, and allergy-immunology specialists treat a wide variety of problems, including:
Allergies affecting the respiratory tract, such as allergic rhinitis (hay fever) or asthma.
Allergies affecting the skin, such as eczema, hives, welts, and allergic rashes.
Adverse reactions to substances such as foods, drugs and vaccines, or stinging insects.
Autoimmune diseases, where the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissues. Some examples are rheumatoid arthritis, where the immune system attacks the joints; celiac disease, where the lining of the small intestine is damaged; and Sjogren’s syndrome, where the glands producing tears and saliva are attacked.
Certain diseases of the immune system, such as antibody deficiencies, primary immunodeficiency disease, or in some cases, HIV.
During a visit to an allergist-immunologist, the physician may perform allergy testing to identify which substances are causing the allergic reactions. An important part of the care they provide is prevention education, where patients with allergies learn how to decrease their exposure to problematic substances and control their symptoms of allergic reaction. Allergists might prescribe medication, such as inhaled corticosteroids or beta agonists for asthma. They may also provide immunotherapy, where small amounts of the problem allergen are given via injection to the patient and the amount is increased slowly over time. The shots help the body get used to the allergen and train the immune system to react appropriately to it without causing problem symptoms.
Immune disorders can range from making patients uncomfortable to being life-threatening, and they are becoming more common. Allergy-Immunology is a quickly growing field.
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