When to See a Pulmonary Specialist

when to see a pulmonary specialistIf you have COPD, you may be wondering when to see a pulmonary specialist. Because a pulmonary specialist, or pulmonologist, specializes in diseases of the lungs and bronchial tubes, adding one to your repertoire of health care providers is something you may want to consider. But should you consult with a pulmonary specialist at the onset of your symptoms? Or should you wait to see a pulmonary specialist after you’re diagnosed?

What is a Pulmonologist?

A pulmonologist is a medical doctor that has specialized knowledge and skill in the diagnosis and treatment of conditions and diseases of the lungs. Pulmonology is considered a subspecialty of internal medicine. In order for a physician to become a pulmonologist, they must have graduated from an approved medical school. They must have completed an internal medicine residency program which takes a minimum of 3 years in which they will have treated patients with a wide range of illnesses and medical conditions. They must then take and pass a certification examination administered by the Board of Internal Medicine. But this is not all. In the final stages of their training, they must complete a 2-year minimum pulmonary fellowship, during which time they will learn the symptoms and treatment of minor and major respiratory conditions from asthma, pneumonia and tuberculosis to COPD, interstitial lung disease and cystic fibrosis. At the end of the fellowship, the pulmonologist must pass a second set of board certification examinations in their specialty.

The Role of the Primary Care Provider in COPD

Although there are many different specialists that can make up a COPD treatment team, as long as your COPD is uncomplicated, most of your treatment can come from your primary care provider. Primary care providers play a critical role in the screening, diagnosis and treatment of COPD. They are usually the ones who end up catching COPD early, even before symptoms begin, by screening smokers using a simple breathing test known as spirometry.

Your primary care provider can also prescribe all of your COPD medications for you, including inhalers, steroids, oxygen and antibiotics. So if your primary care provider can treat your COPD effectively, when should you see a pulmonary specialist?

The Role of the Pulmonologist in COPD

Seeing a pulmonologist may be necessary if you have a more complicated case of COPD. For example, your primary care provider may refer you to a pulmonologist if you’re not responding well to COPD treatment, you’re hospitalized for COPD exacerbation or your disease has reached a more advanced stage of COPD.

A pulmonologist may order a different combination of medications or special treatments for you. To better-assess your condition or implement diagnostic studies, they can also perform a bronchoscopy using a flexible scope to look down your airway and inside your lungs. A pulmonologist may also have a staff that is very much geared for the lung patient that a primary care provider may not have or be able to afford in their office. A pulmonologist may also be used to reinforce what the primary care provider has already initiated, especially the importance of smoking cessation in a patient who continues to smoke.

How Do I Get a Referral to a Pulmonologist?

You don’t have to wait for your primary care provider to refer you to a pulmonary specialist. If you feel you need one, you can self-refer, if you have PPO insurance, or you can request a referral from your primary care provider. If your primary care provider doesn’t want to give you a referral, speak to your health insurance company as it is within your rights to see a specialist if you have reason to believe you need one.

What Does a Pulmonologist Do at Your First Visit?

What should you expect when you make your first appointment with a lung specialist? You will be asked a number of questions about your symptoms and what you have been experiencing that made you decide to come in. Then you will receive a physical exam, where your lung doctor will listen to your lungs and your breathing. Your pulmonologist will want to measure your blood oxygen level and your lung function with a number of tests. First they will use a pulse oximeter, possibly followed by an arterial blood gas study, to test the oxygen in your blood as well as identify potential problems with lung function. Your lung specialist will also ask you to blow into a device called a spirometer to test how well air flows through your respiratory system. Finally, your lung doctor may need to conduct other tests to make a diagnosis, including a bronchoscopy, chest x-ray or CT scan. This allows your pulmonologist to get a thorough picture of your lung health and assess any airway or lung damage they are able to identify. 

What Should I Ask My Pulmonologist?

Try to come to your first appointment with your lung specialist prepared with any questions you have, as well as a list of any symptoms or concerns you would like to share and discuss. Before your appointment, write down all the symptoms you have been experiencing, how they are presenting for you and any changes you have recently experienced in your symptoms. You want to be thorough in asking questions as well. Only you know what you feel like, so be open and honest. Ask about anything that confuses or concerns you. If you want to know if a certain symptom is related to your condition, ask about it. It is also a good idea to ask about the tests you are receiving, how frequently you will need to undergo those tests and what you can expect to learn from them. Ask about any new prescriptions or medical guidance for lifestyle changes, including any restrictions, and how you can best manage your symptoms. You should also inquire about ongoing appointments and treatment. If you feel as though something is not working for you, ask! This is your medical care for your health, so take ownership of the experience to ensure that you help your lung doctor provide you with the best care and treatment possible. 

Your appointments will also move much more efficiently if you come prepared with a summary of your medical history, current medications and any past test results. If you have seen another lung doctor or required emergency medical care for a related issue, bring the documentation. Your pulmonologist relies on information from you first to begin reaching a conclusion, so be as thorough as you can be.

Frequently Asked Questions: Seeing a Pulmonary Specialist

What is a lung doctor called? Is that different from a chest specialist or respiratory system doctor?

All of these names describe a pulmonary specialist. While certain pulmonary doctors may focus on particular areas of expertise, thereby making you think of them as a lung doctor or chest doctor, they still fall under the same umbrella of pulmonary specialist. 

Why would you need to see a pulmonary specialist?

A pulmonary doctor is trained to address any number of respiratory diseases, disorders and conditions. If you have COPD, lung cancer, pulmonary hypertension, rheumatoid lung disease or even a complicated case of pneumonia, you may be referred to a lung specialist. Once the lung doctor is called, make sure you have as much information as possible from your primary care physician, as well as a list of questions you may have, so you can go into your appointment with your pulmonary doctor prepared.

What does a pulmonary specialist treat?

A pulmonary doctor is able to diagnose and treat lung conditions and diseases. Your lung doctor can treat conditions that affect your entire respiratory system, including your chest wall, lungs, thoracic cavity and upper airways. As such, a pulmonary specialist commonly diagnoses and treats patients with asthma, chronic bronchitis, COPD, cystic fibrosis, emphysema, interstitial lung disease, pulmonary fibrosis, tuberculosis and more. A pulmonary doctor can also help treat sleep-disordered breathing, like sleep apnea, and work in tandem with a sleep lab. While patients with uncomplicated versions of these diseases can often receive treatment from their primary care physicians, a pulmonary specialist can help with difficult cases or respiratory conditions and diseases with complications. Additionally, a pulmonary specialist has expertise in treating respiratory failure and providing complex interventions like mechanical ventilation. As such, you will always find a pulmonary dr. in an intensive care unit. 

When should I see a pulmonary specialist?

Generally speaking, if you are having trouble managing a respiratory condition, disease or disorder or its symptoms, even with the treatment of a primary care doctor, it is time to see a pulmonary specialist. This could include asthma that is difficult to control, a complex case of COPD, cystic fibrosis, pulmonary embolism and more. 

Should I wait until I am older to see a pulmonary doctor?

If you are experiencing respiratory difficulties and are having trouble managing them, even if you are already under the care of a primary care physician, you should consider seeing a pulmonary specialist. Age is not a factor when it comes to seeing a lung doctor. Instead, a lung specialist will consider your particular condition, your overall health and any complications or unusual aspects of your condition. From there, a pulmonary specialist is able to begin to diagnose and treat your particular illness. 

Can a pulmonologist treat allergies?

Since pulmonologists treat lung conditions and diseases, it might be appropriate to see a pulmonologist if you experience asthma or breathing difficulties that are difficult to control as a result of your allergies. However, you will need to see an allergist, rather than a lung doctor, to treat your allergies themselves. Start by seeing your primary care provider or an allergist first if you are experiencing breathing difficulty with your allergies, but they may recommend that you see a lung specialist if they are unable to properly resolve your allergy-based lung condition. 

Should I see a pulmonologist for sleep apnea?

Not exactly. Most likely, you will start by seeing your primary care physician or a sleep specialist for a sleep apnea diagnosis. After that, you should see a specialist with training in the treatment of sleep disordered breathing. Many sleep specialists tend to be lung specialists with a pulmonology background, as understanding lung function is especially helpful for specialists studying sleep breathing disorders. So, while you may ultimately see a pulmonologist for your sleep apnea, the most important thing is that the doctor you see has the appropriate training in sleep-related breathing disorders. 

When should I see a pulmonologist for bronchitis?

While a pulmonologist may not typically treat a standard case of acute bronchitis without recurrences, it is highly likely that you would see a lung doctor for repeated cases of acute bronchitis or chronic bronchitis. Your primary care physician should be able to diagnose and treat a single case of bronchitis, but if it becomes severe, or you have repeated cases of bronchitis, you may be referred to a lung specialist for further testing of your respiratory health and function. If you have had severe bronchitis, talk to your primary care doctor about when you should be concerned about other associated health conditions, and when you should see a lung specialist for more information about your lung function.

By Deborah Leader RN, BSN, PHN


  • https://www.acponline.org/about-acp/about-internal-medicine/subspecialties/pulmonary-disease
  • https://www.verywellhealth.com/would-my-care-benefit-from-a-pulmonologist-200635
  • https://www.healthgrades.com/explore/7-reasons-to-see-a-pulmonologist
  • https://www.medicinenet.com/pulmonologist_doctor/article.htm
  • https://www.healthgrades.com/right-care/lungs-breathing-and-respiration/9-things-your-pulmonologist-wants-you-to-know
  • https://floridachest.com/pulmonary-blog/9-questions-to-ask-your-pulmonologist-before-your-first-appointment
  • https://copd.net/living/questions-for-pulmonologist/
  • https://www.lung.org/blog/know-your-providers-pulmonologist
  • https://www.sleepapnea.org/treat/getting-sleep-apnea-diagnosis/
  • https://aacos.com/blog/whats-the-difference-between-an-allergist-and-a-pulmonologist/

67 thoughts on “When to See a Pulmonary Specialist”

  1. Avatar William Croft says:

    Can my primary care doctor write the prescription for a oxygen concentrator or do I have to have lung specialist do that?

    1. Inogen Inogen says:

      Hi William, If your primary care doctor determines that you need oxygen, he or she will be able to prescribe you oxygen therapy. If you have any additional questions about portable oxygen concentrators, please call an Inogen Oxygen Specialist at 1-800-678-5572.

  2. Avatar William (Bill) Barnes says:

    I have COPD and have been on oxygen for nearly 2 years. I have recently started coughing and my back hurts along my lungs. I have not called my primary dr. yet, because I can refer myself and would like to see a specialist. What would you suggest? I am on an inhaler, ANORA,

    1. Inogen Inogen says:

      Hi Bill, We encourage you to see a pulmonologist so that they can diagnosis your symptoms.

  3. Avatar Sammy says:

    I was diagnosis with mild COPD. I have had a cough for 2 years this Nov. I was diagnosis with acute reflux two years ago. On the chest x-ray they also found a Hiatal Hernia. Do the two work hand in hand. Do I need to see a Pulmonologist?

    1. Inogen Inogen says:

      Hi Sammy, Since we are not your primary care doctor we cannot give you medical advice. We recommend that you consult with your primary care doctor so that he or she can refer you to a pulmonologist if needed.

  4. Avatar rae says:

    I have been to my primary and have had pneumonia 2 times this year and cannot get rid of a cough. I have a needling pressure on the left side that doesn't go away – like a ache. Not asking for medical advise, just whether a pulmonologist is the right direction to go.

    1. Inogen Inogen says:

      Hi Rae, If you have had a cough for more than three weeks, it is defined as a chronic cough. If you are experiencing a chronic cough, you should see a pulmonologist. However, please first consult with your primary care doctor. He or she can diagnosis your symptoms and refer you to a pulmonolgoist if needed.

  5. Avatar Ron says:

    I have been diagnos with copd may 15 2016 and diagnos with chf my heart doctor told me that my sleep apnea doctor can take care of it is that true

    1. Inogen Inogen says:

      Hi Ron, It couldn't hurt to talk to the doctor. I suggest you call their office and speak to them and determine if that might be helpful. Good luck and best wishes.

  6. Avatar Hope Abey says:

    (My english is not so good)

    A friend of mine, he has cough problem. He is suffering from cough problem for 20 years now. There is no pain in lungs or in any body part, no blood during cough nothing just cough.. (except mucus) .He had visited alots of hospital n Doctors n almost all doc. said its just a allergy . But the prescribed medicine doesnt work much. He still has the problem.
    Few weeks back he visited a doc n he suggested him some medicinal herbs. It seems its working a bit but not all.

    please will you suggest some measures to be taken for him to recover like foods and medicine for allergy..

    1. Inogen Inogen says:

      Hi Hope, We have a few blog posts about allergies/respiratory symptoms. For foods that may worsen respiratory symptoms, please visit: https://www.inogen.com/blog/foods-may-worsen-respiratory-symptoms/
      For 10 tips on how to relieve winter allergies, please visit: https://www.inogen.com/blog/10-tips-taming-winter-allergies/
      For 8 ways on how to rid your home of allergies, please visit: https://www.inogen.com/blog/8-ways-to-rid-your-home-of-allergens/
      We hope this helps you and your friend! Happy holidays.

  7. Avatar altha says:

    I was diagnosis with COPD will be three years this April 2018, just recently started coughing. I have a problem with loseing weight but eat like a country dog can someone help me tell me something please.

    1. Inogen Inogen says:

      Hi Altha, Many COPD patients experience weight lose and find it harder to maintain their weight. For more information on COPD, specifically on COPD diets and exercise, please visit: https://www.inogen.com/resources/living-with-copd/copd-fact-sheet/

  8. Avatar Debra says:

    I have always been sensitive to chemical orders (perfumes included) causing coughing, and mucus to develop. Now that I'm older, this sensitivity is worse. At times, I feel tightness in my chest and more mucus than usual. This stays with me for 3-4 after exposure. I've told my primary and asked about using an inhaler, but she says go to hospital. I'm not critical, so should I see a Pulmonary Specialist, instead?

    1. Inogen Inogen says:

      Hi Debra, If your primary care doctor says you should go to the hospital, you should go to the hospital.

  9. Avatar Ana says:

    I have had a cough since November and still have it. My primary doctor has given me symbcort (I think its spelled wrong). But, the cough has not gone away. I never had this before. I don't know what is causing this. I have had antibiotics and bacterial medicine. They did x-rays but nothing shows. I have seen my primary more than 3 times, still the same medicine, should I consult with a lung specialist?

    1. Inogen Inogen says:

      Hi Ana, It sounds like you have been experiencing a cough for about 4 months and you haven't experienced any relief from your symptoms. You should bring this up to your primary care doctor and ask him or her to refer you to a specialist.

  10. Avatar Lesley Trafford says:

    I have had a mold/formaldehyde issue in my body for a few years…took me nearly 3 years to figure out what it was. I am now having issues with the house being closed up for the summer and the AC unit being used instead of fresh air. It is tightening my chest, making me light headed and hurting my throat and nose… any ideas what to do about this. The unit is relatively new and has the new 'freon'… I didn't have this trouble with the old freon. Can you give any advise please. I am now very sensitive to formaldehyde, raw wood and chemical smells… I am like a' canary down a mine' and can smell things that others cannot.

    1. Inogen Inogen says:

      Hi Lesley, It sounds like you have a mold/formaldehyde issue in your house. To improve the air quality in your home, the CDC recommends that people do not smoke indoors, that they try to open windows as much as possible, fix water leaks to help keep mold away, and to clean away any mold you see or smell with detergent and water.

      For more tips, please visit: https://www.cdc.gov/nceh/drywall/docs/whatyoushouldknowaboutformaldehyde.pdf

  11. Avatar glenda phillips says:

    hi, i have been treated for copd for over a year by a nurse practisioner no xrays have been done of my lungs how do they know i have copd. she told me at tne beginning she did not know if i had the emphysema part now that i ask for a lung dr she told me i had the emphysema along with chronic broncatis.which this puzzles me how do they know without xrays she only listen to my lungs each visit

    1. Inogen Inogen says:

      Hi Glenda, Has your doctor conducted a spirometry test? A spirometry test is required to confirm a diagnosis of COPD. Additionally, there are a few other studies that support a COPD diagnosis. For more information, please visit: https://www.inogen.com/blog/how-is-copd-diagnosed/

  12. Avatar Pete says:

    This is probably a stupid comment but…….. I had some shortness of breath issues over the last couple months but they seem to be resolved. I have had PET scan and seen a cardiologist and things seem to be coming along well. I am back to running five miles every day with no problem and am working my way back up to six miles. My primary care doc has referred me to a pulmonologist. I am thinking all things considered I don't need to see one. Opinion ???

    1. Inogen Inogen says:

      Hi Pete, We recommend you follow your primary care doctor's recommendations as he or she is more familiar with your medical history. Although you may feel fine right now, most respiratory diseases are progressive meaning they get worse over time. You may feel relief from your symptoms now but down the line your symptoms could return and could be worse because you didn't treat your symptoms when they first appeared.

  13. Avatar Lisa says:

    I have had a bad cough that is disrupting my life at work and at home. Been to 3 ears, eyes and nose specialist and tried various antibiotics, etc. They have not seen anything and wants to refer me to a Pulmonologist. Have been to Mayo Hospital for tests, my primary care for tests, allergy tested, at my wits end. How could a Pulmonologist help me with this problem?

    1. Inogen Inogen says:

      Hi Lisa, Has your doctor done any respiratory tests? If not, ask your primary care doctor he or she thinks a chest x-ray is necessary. Usually, a chest x-ray is usually one of the first things your doctor will order if you’re experiencing difficulty breathing. For more information about chest x-rays and other tests that are used to diagnosis breathing problems, please visit: https://www.inogen.com/blog/tests-for-diagnosing-breathing-problems/

  14. Avatar Bev says:

    How can I find a pulmonary doctor in the Memphis area who has knowledge of the treatment of bronchial casts? I understand that they are fairly rare in adults. I have also lost my voice so I can't speak on the phone any more. My voice comes back a little but people say they can't understand me. I think I have reached the point where I need someone to assist me with getting the care I need, especially since I am a shut-in, disabled due to PTSD with no family or friends to help. Any light you can shed on how to proceed would be greatly appreciated.

    1. Inogen Inogen says:

      Hi Bev, Does your insurance provider have a website or a directory where you can look up doctors by their specialty? If so, that may be a good place to start especially if you want to stay in-network. You can also go to your primary care doctor and ask him or her to refer you to a specialist with experience in bronchial casts. We hope this helps!

  15. Avatar Corne says:

    i need help , i have done an x-ray , but my doctor cant seem to find anything on the x-ray , but i keep feeling in the morning very dizzy , and i do have this shortness of breath , which cant seem to be explained , and my hands feel like it swells up a bit with the feeling of that i havent breathed or took enough oxygen in my sleep , my docter never even mentioned that you get people like you, what should i do , does it seem to have any relation to this?

    1. Inogen Inogen says:

      Hi Corne, Although a chest x-ray can be effective, there are a few other tests that a Pulmonologist could do. For more information the the different types of pulmonary function tests, please visit: https://www.inogen.com/blog/pulmonary-function-tests/

  16. Avatar Marie Hicks says:

    My sister has been diagnosed with chemical lungs. They said it was like she walked in a burning building and inhaled all the toxins she can barley breath. I am wondering if she needs to go to a Dr. in Houston. She was in a Houston hospital for 4 days and sent home with antibiotics. She has been in this hospital for 3 days. Had x-rays and cat scans.

    1. Inogen Inogen says:

      Hi Marie, By "chemical lungs" do you mean "chemical pneumonitis"? Regardless if you are your sister's power of attorney, please work with your sister's primary care doctor to determine whether or not it is time for your sister to see a Pulmonary Specialist.

  17. Avatar Deborah says:

    My primary care doctor found out today that I have a very small amount of fluid in the lower right lung, and has suggested I contact a cardiologist. Shouldn't I be seen by a pulmonary doctor instead of a cardiologist? I have shortness of breath, and very fatigued, and is all I can do to wash dishes every day.

    1. Inogen Inogen says:

      Hi Deborah, That does sound odd but since we are not your primary care doctor and we are not familiar with your health history, it's hard to say whether or not you should see a Pulmonologist. Your primary care doctor may want you to see a Cardiologist before seeing a Pulmonologist for a variety of reasons and you should follow his or her guidance as your primary care doctor is most familiar with your health.

  18. Avatar Rich Lucero says:



    1. Inogen Inogen says:

      Hi Rich, We understand that seeing health professionals, such as a pulmonologist can feel scary or intimidating. However if you're experiencing negative symptoms, it's important to work with your primary care doctor to determine the cause of your symptoms. Please consult your primary care doctor to determine whether or not seeing a Pulmonary Specialist or another specialist, like a Cardiologist.

  19. Avatar Diana says:

    I have COPD, I went to see a pulmonary specialist, I went through tests and my lungs are at 50%, after seeing him twice in 3 months he told me that I didn't have to see him anymore, at the time I was happy and gave him a big hug. Then I start thinking and asked myself why, will I be dying soon, my sister has asthma and sees her doctor every year, she's been going for 20 years for a check up. When I called my specialist he told me I could go and see him at anytime, I thought like my sister, her doctor tells his secretary to make her an appointment a year ahead of time, It really worries me that my doctor said that to me, he gave me Zenhale and Speriva and an emergency inhaler to carry with me at all times, he didn't mention if there are breathing exercise I can do, I have to research and that scares me, sometimes it's things I don't want to read. Everyone is different. What should I do, find another specialist?

    1. Inogen Inogen says:

      Hi Diana, Please consult your primary care doctor as he or she is familiar with your health history and will be able to provide you with the best advice. Your primary care doctor may or may not recommend that you seek a secondary opinion.

  20. Avatar Donna says:

    Hi, I have had some type of respiratory issues going on for about 6 months. I seen my primary care doctor for this and he basically listened to my lungs and had me breathe in and out. he said everything sounded good. it is hard to explain. the best way I can describe it is, it feels like I always have a cold or some type of irritation. I have a slight cough but nothing that is alarming. I don't feel short of breath . my chest feels a little tight. my throat doesn't hurt but feels irritated. I am not coughing up anything. I do have a runny nose from time to time. I have this anxiety that I have a tumor or something very serious.

  21. Avatar Rich Lucero says:

    Thank you for writing me back. Yes its scary I'm 38 with 4 kids. I don't want to hear I have 3 years to live if I have some sort of lung disease. Their doesn't seem to be a lot of hope out there for this. I am losing weight unintentionally now and can only sleep through the night if heavily medicated.

  22. Avatar shelia kidd says:

    I had pneumonia diagnosed with GP back in early August. I have taken 5 treatments of prednisone, used a nebulizer, cough syrup, Antibiotic injections, steroid injections and now on symbicort and Spirva respimat (started 9/18/18). I still have chest discomfort constantly. Should I get a referral to see a specialist or wait and see if this last round of meds will make a difference.?

    1. Inogen Inogen says:

      Hi Shelia, Please work with your primary care doctor as he or she is most familiar with your medical history.

  23. Avatar Melodie Wallace says:

    I had a low dose lung CT and it showed I had emphysema (2 years in a row). My doctor called with the results but said nothing about the emphysema. When I asked about it he said “you probably do have it”. I asked about treatment and he said “quit smoking, but you did that 12 years ago so you’re good”. Should I talk to another doctor or continue to do nothing. I have some shortness of breath and wheezing but it isn’t severe yet.

    1. Inogen Inogen says:

      Hi Melodie,
      It is always a good idea to get a second opinion. If you are experiencing shortness of breath and wheezing, I would urge you to look into it sooner rather than later. Have a great day!

  24. Avatar Rich Lucero says:

    Saw my lung doc. Had Chest CT low dose with contrast came back negative and the following spirometer results. Do you see any concerns and is there other test I should follow up with? I am still having minor chest discomfort and back pains. She also reviewed a chest x ray taken at a Chiro office a few weeks later and it was good. SPO2 in high 90's

    FVC 5.75/5.70 99%

    FEV1 4.70/4.53 96%

    FEV1/FVC 82/80 96%

    FEF 25-75% (L/SEC) 4.8/4.15 86%

    Expiratory Time 7.52

    FEFMAX 11.25/15 133%

    MVV 178/172 96%

    Lung Volumes

    SVC 98%

    TLC 98%

    RV Pleth L 91%

    RV/TLC 92%

    ERV 103%

    TGV 102%

    Airways Resitance

    RAW 1.45/.96 66%- Lowest number?

    GAW 101%

    SGAW 111%


    DLCOunc 102%

    DLCOcor 101%

    VAL 103%

    DL/VA 97%

    1. Inogen Inogen says:

      Dear Rich, Thank you for communicating with us. We cannot offer any medical advice regarding your testing. I suggest you ask a pulmonary specialist if there are any additional tests you should undergo and present the Dr. with your test results. Best of luck and health!

  25. Avatar Debbie says:

    I have a chronic cough. I have to cough after I eat – I have acid reflux and now take Nexium every day and that has helped mitigate the after-eating cough. However, I cough at all points of the day and often have difficulty "getting the cough out". I feel I need to cough and when I do, it's productive but there are a lot of false starts. Do I need to see a pulmonologist or should I start with my primary doctor?

    1. Inogen Inogen says:

      Hi Debbie,
      I would suggest you start with your primary care doctor and then you can get a referral to a pulmonologist. HMO insurances usually require this.
      I hope you feel better soon!

  26. Avatar Rich Lucero says:

    Could a CT of the chest using a 128 slice 3mm approach detect small airway disease? Should it pick up on an diseases of the interstitial?

    1. Inogen Inogen says:

      Dear Rich,
      Please contact a radiologist with this question, as this would be the responsibility of a Radiologist (MD) to read the results of a CT scan. We wish you well.

  27. Avatar RIchard Lucero says:

    One more question for now. when I talk it seems as if I run out of breathe and my voice vibrates stronger into my chest. Any advice?

    1. Inogen Inogen says:

      Hi Richard,
      I suggest you speak to a pulmonary specialist and have them evaluate this condition.

  28. Avatar Lynne says:

    My GP referred me to a pulmonary specialist for sleep apnea, and he's not board certified in sleep. Any reason to see a pulmonologist for sleep apnea?

  29. Avatar Jean says:

    Four days ago I was transferring cocoa powder from a large bag into a small container for daily use and accidentally breathed in the wafts of cocoa powder dust that formed. Ever since then I have been coughing a lot and feel like my lungs are constricted. I get the same tightness and coughing when there are wildfires in the area. What should I do?

  30. Avatar Belle Taylor says:

    I had a cardiac scoring CT and the results had some disturbing findings about my lungs, suggesting to notify PCP to have more tests. PCP referred me to a pulmonologist but I can’t get an appt for 3 months. I think this is too long to wait. What do you think?

    1. Inogen Inogen says:

      Hi Belle,
      We are not physicians however if your physician felt an urgency to have you seen they would have made sure you were seen immediately. If you feel there is a mistake, please call your physician to be seen on an urgent basis.

  31. Avatar Lynn says:

    It started with allergies and cold, went on a "Z" pack. Went into bronchitus A doctor gave me an inhalor, antibotic and cough syrup with codine. Wasn't getting better followed up with my primary, said no antibotic, doctor said it wouldn't help and to get off of the cough syrup with codine. Coughing up mucus in the a.m. then dry cough all day. This has been going on since late April. curently just taking inhalor and mucinex. Should I go back to primary doctor or specilist?

    1. Inogen Inogen says:

      Hi Lynn, We are not medical professionals, but getting a second opinion or visiting the same doctor for a follow up is always a good idea.

  32. Avatar Becky says:

    I am a self pay patient an am wondering if the symptoms I have I should see a Pulmonary Doctor. I have had a heavy feeling in the chest for about two months, and sometimes my lungs feel itchy and I have a burning low in the throat and some mild coughing.

    1. Inogen Inogen says:

      Hi Becky,
      I am not a medical professional, but better safe, than sorry. I suggest you speak to your primary care physician and have them help determine if that is necessary. I hope you feel better soon.

  33. Avatar Sandra scott says:

    I have a chronic daytime only dry cough since Nov 2018. My doctor has been treating me for my bile reflux since then but there has been no improvements. I have done a chest and lung xray which came out fine.
    I am still taking reflux medication. Any suggestions?.

    1. Inogen Inogen says:

      Dear Sandra, Thank you for reaching out to us. It’s difficult to say what is causing your dry cough. We can only suggest following up with your physician since he has the best understanding of your current medical condition and the training necessary to prescribe a solution.

  34. Avatar Monique says:

    I had spontaneous Pneumathorax, after a few weeks in hospital they operated on my lung via video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS). I was in recovery for 2 weeks and started working the 3rd week (this week), but for the past 8 days i have felt pain on the right side of my left chest (the surgery was done on the left side). I am just worried about this pain that is not going away, my breathing is fine but the pain feels like a fist punch on my chest. Should I go for xrays again or might it be my chest muscle that got hurt in the surgery. (feeling in my chest is only coming back now)

    1. Inogen Inogen says:

      Dear Monique, Post-surgical pain is normal, but if you are experiencing pain or discomfort not previously explained or expected then you should contact your physician ASAP. I hope you are feeling better by the time you are reading this.

  35. Avatar Drake Welsh says:

    I found the tip that you gave to get a referral from your primary care provider very helpful. My wife has been having lung issues for a while. She has episodes where she feels like she can't breathe, and I think it is time to see a specialist to help her best. When we look for a specialist, I will be sure to talk to our primary care provider first to get a referral. https://www.drmoogerfeld.com/services

  36. Avatar Karen Ericson says:

    I have been told I have asthma so I was given inhalers but they don't seem to help. I can't do to much without gettingso winded its hard to breath. I do breathing treatments in the morning but I don't feel like it helps. I had blood clots in my lungs 10 years ago and was put on blood thinners. My breathing problem is getting worse and I don't feel like my Dr is helping. What should I do. I was told about the asthma by a lung Dr who is no longer here. Help

    1. Inogen Inogen says:

      Hi Karen,
      I suggest you ask for a second opinion with a different doctor.

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