How Do Pulmonary Doctors Diagnose Lung Diseases?

When you start thinking about lung diseases, the first and foremost thing that appears in your mind is lung cancer. However, many other lung diseases can impart a hazardous effect on people of all ages. If you are having symptoms that indicate that you may have a lung disease, it is crucial to see a pulmonologist for diagnosis and treatment. In this article, we will discuss how pulmonologists diagnose lung diseases. Consult the best pulmonary doctor near me by visiting the lung and sleep center today.

What Is Meant By Pulmonology?

Internal medicine is the branch of medical care that emphasizes adult health. Pulmonology is one of the many fields within this extensive category. It deals particularly with diseases and disorders regarding the respiratory system. This incorporates the lungs, throat, nose, and sinuses. The term pulmonology comes from the word “Pulmo,” which means lung. Pulmonologists diagnose and treat pulmonary issues such as asthma, emphysema, and chronic bronchitis.

What is the Duty of a Pulmonologist?

Pulmonologists are medical experts who help diagnose and treat respiratory system diseases, including the lungs. They collaborate with other specialists, such as pulmonary disease experts or primary care physicians, to proffer comprehensive wellness services for patients who are at risk of developing chronic lung ailments like asthma and bronchitis. They also recognize patients who are susceptible to lung cancer to provide treatment before the disease progresses too far.

What Medical Procedures do Pulmonologists Perform?

Pulmonologists perform multiple procedures, tests, and exams to provide an appropriate diagnosis for their patients. The followings are some of the procedures performed by pulmonary doctors.

  • Pulmonary hygiene – This medical procedure aids in clearing the airway of mucus and other debris.
  • Airway ablation –  Pulmonologists use this process to remove the larynx, also known as the voice box or bronchus.
  • Lung biopsy – Pulmonary experts perform a lung biopsy to locate the cause of respiratory problems by extracting tissue samples for microscopic analysis.
  • Bronchoscopy – Pulmonologists use this procedure to analyze and examine the trachea thoroughly.
  • Lung function tests – These tests calculate the amount of air inhaled and exhaled and how well the lungs expel carbon dioxide.
  • Chest x-rays – This imaging test provides a detailed image of the lungs and chest area.

Types of Tests Pulmonologists Use To Diagnose Lung Diseases

There are different tests that pulmonologists use to diagnose lung disorders. Below are some of the examples.


If you are suffering from asthma symptoms, such as shortness of breath or rapid heartbeat, a pulmonologist will look for signs during a physical exam. They will use hand-held spirometers to calculate how much air is being inhaled and exhaled, along with peak flow meters depicting any obstructive lung disease. A blood test will help diagnose conditions like carbon dioxide poisoning from mattress fires or wool combustion.


A pulmonologist may analyze the shape and color of your sputum, also known as mucus or phlegm, to quickly diagnose bronchitis. This lung disease causes a thick greenish-yellow substance. If you have any symptoms like cough, fever, or chest pain, they will also conduct a chest X-ray to determine the severity of your condition.


A pulmonologist will use a simple breathing test called spirometry to draft lung function profiles that calculates how well you are breathing. They might also conduct computed tomography (CT) scans, pulmonary function tests, and arterial blood gas analysis to help with diagnosis.


The symptoms of pneumonia can be challenging to separate from other ailments. Patients having symptoms of pneumonia often undergo chest X-rays, blood work, and pulse oximetry tests. For patients above 60, a pulmonologist may request CT scans or pleural fluid cultures to explore diagnosis and treatment options further.

Lung cancer:

While there is no one accurate test for lung cancer, a pulmonologist will likely order multiple tests to get an overall picture of the extent of cancer. This set of tests might include chest X-rays, CT scans, blood tests, and sputum cytology, a test to examine cells in sputum.

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD):

The image-guided diagnostics utilized to diagnose COPD are also effective in recognizing emphysema. Usually, a combination of chest X-rays and pulmonary function tests is also taken for this lung disease. However, there is no requirement for blood or sputum samples because they can examine your airflow through each lung by using an imaging technique called spirometry.

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Some of the Lung Diseases that Pulmonologists Treat?

There are several conditions that pulmonologists can treat. Some of them are mentioned below.

Pulmonary embolism

In this disease, a blood clot travels to the lungs and obstructs one or more pulmonary arteries. Anticoagulants and thrombolytics are helpful in resolving it.


It is a lung infection of the mucous membranes that surrounds the bronchi. Viruses and bacteria usually cause it. Bronchitis is usually treated with antibiotics, antivirals, and antifungal medications.

Pulmonary edema –

It is the accumulation of excess fluid in the lungs that may be described as acute or chronic edema. It depends on how quickly the edema develops. Pulmonary edema can be caused by different issues such as heart failure, pneumonia, and different other lung conditions. Pulmonary edema is treated with diuretics and auxiliary oxygen.

Pulmonary fibrosis

In this lung disorder, inflammation or scarring of the lung tissues occurs, which makes it difficult for patients to breathe. It is often described as a “widespread” disease.


It is a gradually progressive lung disease that makes it difficult to breathe. In this disease, air sacs are damaged. This disease is treated with bronchodilators and supplemental oxygen.

Lung cancer

It is the uncontrolled and rapid growth of abnormal cells in the lungs. Lung cancer is treated with surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or a combination of all these procedures.

Pulmonary Hypertension

It is a medical condition that causes high blood pressure in the arteries that run between the heart and lungs. Pulmonary hypertension is treated with vasodilators and anticoagulants.

Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS)

  ARDS is a life-threatening condition that can develop after a severe injury, infection, and sometimes a heart attack. ARDS eventually results in inflammation and fluid accumulation in the lungs. It makes it difficult to breathe. The treatment for ARDS includes mechanical ventilation and oxygen therapy.


TB is a severe lung infection that is caused by the bacteria Mycobacterium tuberculosis. It causes strenuous breathing and scarring of the lungs.

Cystic fibrosis

It is a chronic and inherited disease that affects the lungs and digestive system simultaneously. Cystic fibrosis is treated with antibiotics, medications to resolve and thin down mucus, and chest physical therapy.


It is a chronic lung condition that results in inflammation and narrowing of the airways. Asthma is treated with the help of inhaled corticosteroids and bronchodilators.

Obstructive sleep apnea

OSA is a condition that forces people to stop breathing for brief periods during sleep. Obstructive sleep apnea is treated with different therapies, including nasal CPAP, oral appliances, and surgery.


You need to consult a pulmonologist if you have difficulty in breathing, especially when exercising or at rest. This can be due to COPD, pulmonary hypertension, sleep apnea, and any other condition that affects your breathing. High blood pressure in the lungs and exposure to a chemical in the workplace or home that can damage the lungs, wheezing, and coughing up blood are indicators of why you should immediately see a pulmonologist.

At Lung and sleep clinic, which is a well-known lung and sleep center in Southfield, our pulmonologists diagnose lung diseases. We offer an extensive range of services to help you get the proper care for your medical needs and goals.

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