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What do respiratory doctors do?

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Quick Answer

A respiratory doctor specializes in treating conditions occurring in the lungs and respiratory tract, explains Healthline. Also called a pulmonologist, this health care professional treats serious conditions such as asthma, pneumonia, emphysema as well as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Other professionals that assist in treating respiratory issues include a primary care physician and a respiratory therapist, notes WebMD.

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Pulmonologists often employ the help of a respiratory therapist, practitioners who aid physicians in evaluations, diagnosis and some care of patients, notes Cleveland Clinic. These therapists focus on the treatment and management of pulmonary diseases. They often work on cardiac arrest or trauma-admission teams as well as in-home health care. There is no age limit on the patients that these therapists see.

A pulmonologist may order a pulmonary function test to define and address respiratory illnesses, explains Healthline. These tests help diagnose asthma, allergies, respiratory infections, bronchiectasis and lung fibrosis, among other conditions. The test can also help the pulmonologist to diagnose lung cancer, find a pulmonary tumor and detect asbestosis poisoning. A respiratory therapist may also order a pulmonary function test, according to Cleveland Clinic.

Respiratory therapists may perform oxygen therapy, airway management and remove secretions from the lungs, notes Cleveland Clinic. These specialists distribute medications and conduct aerosol therapy as well as mechanical ventilation; they address blood-gas determinations, as well.

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