What Does An Asthma Specialist Do?
As the job title suggests, asthma specialists are those who are trained to treat people who are suffering from asthma, a condition characterized by wheezing, chest tightness, coughing and shortness of breath. An inflammatory disease of the airways, asthma is a common disease afflicting one in twelve people in the United States. The term “asthma specialist” does not actually refer to one career but to various professionals in the healthcare industry who have received additional training and education to treat this condition.
A pediatrician can be an asthma specialist who treats this medical condition in children. Internists are also asthma specialists but this time, they treat the condition in adults. For asthma caused by allergies, the asthma specialist who is better able to treat such conditions is an allergist. Pulmonologists are internists who specialize in treating respiratory diseases. Pulmonary rehabilitation therapists are not medical doctors but they are healthcare professionals who can also care for those with asthma. They teach patients techniques to better manage their conditions.
When asthma specialists first begin to work with patients, they typically obtain a patient’s medical history. They will then inquire about their symptoms and examine the patient to be able to provide the proper diagnosis. They may also order other diagnostic tests to determine lung capacity and measure the levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the body.
After formulating a diagnosis, asthma specialists then come up with a treatment plan for the patient. They may be a mix of long-term pharmacological medications like inhaled corticosteroids for maintenance and short-term medications that provide quick relief when asthma attacks, ways to avoid asthma triggers and getting regular checkups to monitor one’s condition. They also advise patients on the exercises they can do to strengthen their immune systems. In addition, they provide information on the proper nutrition and diet that will enable them to manage their asthma better. The goal of asthma treatment is to prevent an attack so it’s important for asthma specialists to educate patients about their condition.
Asthma specialists monitor the condition of their patients through regular checkups. They make adjustments to the medication they prescribe to those under their care depending on their reaction to it and the state of their overall health. During these follow up checkups, they may also order tests to further ascertain how the patient is responding to medication. Asthma specialists also work with each other in providing care to patients. Pediatricians, for example, may refer their asthmatic patient to an allergist to better manage asthma triggered by allergies. Internists may also call on the help of a pulmonologist who has undergone further training in critical care to manage asthma patients who are in critical condition and are already in intensive care.
Asthma specialists can expect to be called any time—yes, even in the middle of the night—if their patients are brought to the hospital in cases of emergency. Addressing these emergencies during evenings, holidays and weekends is an accepted part of the job of medical doctors, asthma specialists included.