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 you own any air conditioners, humidifiers, hot tubs, or were exposed to water damaged walls or carpet?
- Do you own any pet birds or any feather or down containing products (pillows, blankets, clothes)?
- 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 inflammatory or autoimmune diseases?
- Did you have any blood work done looking for inflammatory or autoimmune diseases?
- Did you undergo a tissue sampling from your lungs?
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 will do a thorough history and examination, and review important testing you may have had done prior to your visit. If necessary, your doctor may obtain further X-rays, blood work or breathing test, and perhaps discuss with you the possibility of obtaining a tissue sample.
June 11, 2015
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