A pulmonologist is a doctor who focuses on lung conditions and respiratory diseases. Pulmonologists can help diagnose and treat a variety of conditions, including asthma. Asthma is a condition that often causes breathing problems. Children may wheeze, be short of breath or cough. Watching your child struggling to breathe is not easy and can be…
Ask a Pulmonologist: What Is an Airway Disorder?
A pulmonologist is a doctor who focuses on the respiratory system. These doctors can diagnose and treat a variety of lung diseases. Lung disease may refer to different types of disorders or diseases that prevent the lungs from working properly. If you have any problems that involve the lungs, seeing a pulmonologist is highly recommended.
Airway diseases a pulmonologist treats
There are many types of lung diseases, including airway diseases. Airway diseases affect the tubes or airways that help carry oxygen as well as other gases into and out of a person’s lungs. The diseases often cause a blockage or narrowing of the airways. Some common airway disorders that pulmonologists focus on are asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Asthma is a long-term disorder that makes it more difficult to move air out of and into the lungs. It can be serious and even life-threatening. With this disease, the airways in the lungs are usually inflamed or swollen. This makes them very sensitive to things that a person is regularly exposed to in the environment. The things that the airways react to are referred to as asthma triggers. A trigger could be the weather or a cold or various things in the environment like smoke, chemicals, dust and pet dander.
The insides of the airways often swell even more when a person breathes in a trigger. This ends up narrowing the space for the air to move out and into the lungs. The muscles that wrap around the airways may also tighten, which makes breathing even more difficult. When that occurs, it is called an asthma attack, asthma flare-up or asthma episode. Asthma can affect a person at any age. For some people who get asthma when they are very young, as the lungs develop the symptoms may go away, but it can come back later in life.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is a long-term lung disorder that makes it difficult for a person to breathe. COPD is a serious condition that can cause long-term disability and even early death. Although there is no cure for this disorder, it is usually preventable and treatable. With this condition, the airways in the lungs end up becoming inflamed and thicken.
The tissue where the oxygen is exchanged also ends up being destroyed. Airflow in and out of the lungs reduces. When that occurs, less oxygen gets into the tissues of the body and it becomes difficult to get rid of carbon dioxide. When the disease gets worse, a person finds it harder to remain active because of shortness of breath.
Lung diseases, including airway disorders, are common medical conditions. Millions of people in the U.S. suffer from lung disease. People with serious or chronic airway disorders such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease can benefit from seeing a pulmonologist. These doctors are well-trained and can diagnose, treat and manage disorders that mainly affect the lungs. If you have any symptoms that you think are related to a lung condition, you should get in touch with a pulmonologist today.
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