You'll probably first bring your symptoms to the attention of your family doctor. He or she may refer you to a pulmonologist — a doctor who specializes in lung disorders. Testing generally includes a variety of blood tests, a CT scan of the chest and pulmonary function testing.
What you can do
Before your appointment, you might want to write a list that answers the following questions:
- What are your symptoms and when did they start?
- Are you receiving treatment for any other medical conditions?
- What medications and supplements have you taken in the past five years, including over-the-counter medications or illicit drugs?
- What are all the occupations you've ever had, even if only for a few months?
- Do any members of your family have a chronic lung disease of any kind?
- Have you ever received chemotherapy or radiation treatments for cancer?
- Do you have any other medical conditions, especially arthritis?
If your primary care physician had a chest X-ray done as part of your initial evaluation, bring that with you when you see a pulmonologist. It will help the pulmonologist make a diagnosis if he or she can compare an old chest X-ray with the results of a current X-ray. The actual X-ray image is more important to your doctor than is the report alone. CT scans of your chest also may have been done, and those should also be requested.
What to expect from your doctor
Your doctor may ask some of the following questions:
Sep. 06, 2014
- Are your symptoms persistent, or do they seem to disappear and then reappear?
- Have you recently had new contact with the following: air conditioners, humidifiers, pools, hot tubs, or water-damaged walls or carpet?
- Have any close relatives or friends been diagnosed with a related condition?
- Do you come into contact with birds through your work or hobbies? Does a neighbor raise pigeons?
- Do you have any family history of lung disease?
- Do you or did you smoke? If so, how much?
- Have you been diagnosed or treated for any other medical conditions?
- Do you have symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux?
- Schraufnagel DE, et al. Breathing in America: Diseases, Progress and Hope. New York, N.Y.: American Thoracic Society; 2010. http://www.thoracic.org/education/breathing-in-america.pdf. Accessed July 8, 2014.
- Mason RJ, et al. Murray and Nadel's Textbook of Respiratory Medicine. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2010. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed July 8, 2014.
- King TE. Approach to the adult with interstitial lung disease: Clinical evaluation. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed July 8, 2014.
- Goldman L, et al. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2012. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed July 8, 2014.
- What is idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis? National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/ipf/. Accessed July 8, 2014.
- Ferri FF. Ferri's Clinical Advisor 2015: 5 Books in 1. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby Elsevier; 2015. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed July 8, 2014.
- King TE. Treatment of idiopathy pulmonary fibrosis. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed July 8, 2014.
- Pulmonary rehabilitation. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/dci/Diseases/pulreh/pulreh_all.html. Accessed July 8, 2014.
- Ryu J (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. July 14, 2014.
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