Pulmonologists specialize in diagnosing and treating respiratory ailments and conditions affecting the lungs and other internal organs associated with lung function, such as the heart, upper respiratory tract and bronchial tubes, explains Asthma & Allergy Associates. They typically treat asthma, pneumonia, lung cancer, emphysema and complex chest infections. They also treat sleep-related disorders, such as sleep apnea.
To diagnose conditions, pulmonologists perform physical exams and sometimes conduct a diagnostic test that involves the sedation of a patient and the use of flexible fiberoptic scopes, which enable them to examine the patient's air passages, reports Asthma & Allergy Associates. They often work in hospital settings, particularly intensive care units.
Pulmonology, which is a subspecialty of internal medicine, deals with lung and cardiopulmonary system conditions, diseases and anomalies, states About.com. The lungs, heart, blood vessels and various other organs play key roles in helping the body inhale and obtain oxygen supply for different body parts. Besides breathing disorders, pulmonologists also treat serious allergies.
Pulmonologists become specialists in respiratory illnesses after attending medical school, undergoing residency training in internal medicine or pediatrics, and completing up to three years of pulmonology and critical-care medicine training, according to Asthma & Allergy Associates. Patients experiencing breathing trouble may consult either a pulmonologist or an allergist, who also treats health problems that affect breathing. Allergists specialize in treating immune deficiencies, allergies and asthma.