Top 20 Questions To Ask a Pulmonologist
Lungs are vital organs in the respiratory tract that support various bodily functions, including absorbing fresh oxygen from the air and expelling carbon dioxide. However, various respiratory disorders, like the common cold and flu infections to chronic obstructive diseases, can affect these functions. A pulmonologist is a healthcare professional specializing in treating and managing these lung disorders. Here are a few important questions to ask when one consults a pulmonologist.
Ask about procedures
Pulmonologists perform several tests to determine the type of disease or disorder developing in the lungs. During the first appointment, it is always better to ask about these tests to be prepared physically and emotionally.
Discuss in detail about current symptoms
Ask the pulmonologist why certain symptoms persist or worsen despite initial intervention. Describe the discomforts so the doctors can perform further tests to narrow down the causes and triggers. It could be a side effect of prescriptions or simply due to the progressive nature of the underlying lung disorder.
Ask what should be done during flare-ups
Symptoms can be erratic depending on the underlying complication. So, it is also important to ask the doctor about flare-ups and what should be done to provide immediate relief.
Discuss test results in detail
From acute chest syndrome to tuberculosis, many types of mild and severe lung disorders affect the organ’s overall function. Ask the pulmonologist about the condition in detail once the test results are done. Do not hesitate to discuss outlook due to fear of unwelcome news.
Ask about available treatment options
Tests and treatments will vary depending on the initial suspicion. There are around 50+ lung disorders that affect children and adults of all age groups. Pulmonologists will suggest lab tests, imaging tests, biopsies, and surgical procedures to diagnose and treat a specific lung disorder.
Discuss all the risks associated with treatment
Complications can arise during ongoing treatment that affects the prognosis for outlook. Hence, it is necessary to ask the doctor about risk factors that can create problems. Being prepared is critical to managing flare-ups successfully, especially while working with limited resources and support.
Ask about the best course of action
Never hesitate to communicate preferences for procedures and treatments. Remember, there are always more suitable alternatives for managing known disorders if the current treatment option and outlook do not seem favorable.
Ask if the condition is curable
Severe lung disorders and several types of lung cancers may not be curable. However, once the initial test results confirm the underlying condition, ask the pulmonologist about living with these conditions that may or may not have a cure.
Discuss preventive measures and future outlook
For lung disorders, it helps to discuss preventive measures in detail with the pulmonologist. Breathing contaminated air affects the lung’s ability to absorb oxygen. Healthcare providers will also suggest protective measures like avoiding exposure to harmful fumes by wearing a mask.
Ask what other risk factors can develop
Chronic lung disorders and severe complications like lung cancer always carry risk factors that must be monitored. Discuss in detail what should be done during flare-ups, right from managing symptoms at home to attending tests to manage the risk.
Discuss the frequency of tests and procedures
While treating chronic respiratory diseases, the doctor will suggest multiple tests, follow-ups, and changes in therapy to monitor the progress. Since this will be time-consuming, one must be able to make time for these visits; therefore, discuss the time and resources necessary in advance.
Ask if these procedures are safe
Many treatments can impact one’s quality of life. Even if certain lung disorders can be cured, one must confirm whether these treatments are safe, considering underlying comorbidities.
Discuss second opinions and referrals
Always get a second opinion since no two consultations will be the same. Different diseases develop and affect people differently, so it never hurts to confirm what one health expert has previously suggested with the current doctor.
Ask about insurance coverage
Unfortunately, not all diseases and disorders are fully covered by health insurance. Therefore, one must find out in advance the best ways to afford treatment and additional therapy-related expenses. Consult with pulmonologists operating in a provider network to streamline insurance needs.
Ask about emergency measures when symptoms worsen
Discuss the best measure to deal with a patient’s emergency when breathing difficulties or symptoms worsen at home. Shortness of breath is one of the more common symptoms observed across all known lung disorders. Discuss the best home treatments to prevent this discomfort and other known symptoms from flaring up.
Discuss rehabilitation programs
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and Pulmonary fibrosis are chronic lung disorders that cannot be cured entirely. So, ask the doctors about pulmonary rehabilitation programs where patients receive education and resources on living with the lung disorder. These include breathing exercises and detailed post-treatment lifestyle changes to prevent further discomfort.
Ask what lifestyle changes are necessary
Post-treatment, one must make changes in daily nutrition and lifestyle to support recovery. Lifestyle changes are also necessary to prevent the underlying symptoms from flaring up. Eating healthy foods, exercising regularly, and following post-treatment instructions are all necessary to help patients rehabilitate and prevent relapse.
Discuss clinical trials and new research
Very few established treatments, including chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and targeted therapy, are done to prevent the spread of cancer. So, one must also be open to the possibility of participating in clinical trials for rare types of cancer. Unlike established treatments, clinical trials are still in the preliminary stages, so it becomes difficult to evaluate the outlook of living with certain types of cancer.
Ask about the frequency of follow-ups
To get the best possible care, discuss how frequently one must visit the pulmonologist and what can be done differently to improve quality of life and future outlook during the consultation.
Ask about living with the condition
Discuss with your pulmonologist the concerns about living with the condition. Learning about a chronic disease with no cure can be scary. Therefore, talking to support groups and discussing best practices for improving outlook will be helpful.