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 Critical Care?
Critical care, or intensive care medicine, is the delivery of medical care to patients whose illness or injury is so seriously life threatening that they would likely die without intervention. It usually takes place in ICUs or trauma centers. It is referred to as critical care in North America, while it is called intensive care or intensive therapy in the rest of the world. Specialists in this field are sometimes referred to as intensivists.
Critical care may encompass a broad variety of medical specialties in the efforts to save a patient’s life. Critical care specialists must have a good knowledge of anesthesiology, surgery, internal medicine, pediatrics, and other specialties. Besides their medical knowledge, intensivists must know a great deal about end-of-life issues, including ethics, advanced directives, and family counseling and bereavement.
Critical care is a relatively modern specialty, which developed along with ICUs beginning in the 1950’s. It looks different from regular medicine, and it can be recognized by the presence of more nurses, more monitoring, more invasive monitors and procedures, and the presence of life-sustaining therapies such as mechanical ventilators and vasopressors.
Specialists in critical care frequently have to make urgent and complex decisions. They use their knowledge and skill to provide intensive care to the most fragile patients and do their best to save lives.
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.