If you suspect that your child suffers from asthma or another chronic lung condition, it is important to get them the necessary expertise. For a proper diagnosis in individuals under the age of 21, a pediatric pulmonologist should be consulted. Exactly what is a pediatric pulmonologist, and why does your child need one?
What Does a Pediatric Pulmonologist Do?
A pulmonologist studies problems occurring in the respiratory system. Likewise, pediatric pulmonologists are specifically trained to identify and treat lung problems in children. While many people associate pulmonologists with asthma alone, they actually deal with many lung conditions and issues. They diagnose, monitor, and treat children and teenagers who experience any of the following problems.
- Sudden tightness in the chest during daily activities
- Difficulty breathing when exposed to allergens
- Chronic respiratory infections
- Anxiety-related breathing problems
- Sleep apnea or regular apnea
- Rattling chest or noisy breathing
- Cystic fibrosis
- Exercise-induced asthma
- Constant coughing
While asthma is not always the end diagnosis of the above symptoms, it is common in young children. To provide your child with the best care possible and help them maintain control over their health, make sure you explore every possible avenue. The more your child knows about the condition of their lungs, the easier it is to avoid triggers and prevent attacks.
Why Does Your Child Need a Pediatric Pulmonologist?
The medical field umbrella covers a multitude of trained professionals. However, it is important to keep in mind that not all doctors are created equal. Some know more, some know less, and many know different things.
Most doctors study a specific category of health, such as women’s health, gut health, allergies, special surgeries, etc. Within those categories are sub-categories. The sub-categories usually include factors such as age, gender, case severity, etc. The point of the categories is, you probably don’t want an allergist performing a neurosurgeon’s work.
By the same token, a pediatric pulmonologist is far more preferable to a regular pulmonologist when it comes to the lung health of your child. Pediatric pulmonologists receive specific training that certifies them to work with children, including 4 years of medical school and 3 years of pediatric training.
Because your child’s body is constantly growing and changing, they need healthcare that grows and changes with them. Typically, an adult with asthma doesn’t see much change in their overall lung condition. However, a child with asthma likely will see change. The journey becomes far easier with the help of a pediatric pulmonologist.
Will Your Child Ever See Someone Besides a Pediatric Pulmonologist?
Keep in mind that your child’s pediatric pulmonologist might recommend that they see an allergist or another type of doctor to determine whether or not they suffer from asthma. Asthma can be triggered by a variety of things, so it is important to distinguish between conditions such as anxiety-induced asthma and panic attacks.
For example, an allergist helps determine whether or not your child suffers from allergic asthma. Allergic asthma occurs when common allergens (such as pollen, pet hair, dust mites, etc.) trigger an individual’s asthma and cause a variety of lung symptoms. Your child might develop a cough every time you go on a walk together. Or, they may have trouble catching their breath after playing with the family pet. In situations like this, it is important to visit the allergist to determine what exactly is causing those reactions and how serious the reactions are.
If severe enough, an attack can send a child to a pediatric pulmonologist. However, the pulmonologist may send the child to an allergist for further testing once the immediate threat has been cleared.
Who is Responsible for Long-Term Care?
Again, a pediatric pulmonologist differs from a primary care physician in that they primarily focus on more severe cases of lung disease. In other words, if your child experiences an emergency asthma attack, or their symptoms indicate a serious condition compared to others, a pediatric pulmonologist becomes necessary. Otherwise, a pulmonologist cares for asthmatics short-term and then recommends them to the appropriate long-term doctor once the patient is safe and stable.
A primary care physician provides long-term care, suggestions, maintenance, and medication. Your child should possess a primary care physician who stays very much in the loop regarding their lung health. To help your doctor make informed decisions, make sure you log triggers and symptoms in an asthma attack action plan. Additionally, taking at-home lung tests helps your child monitor their lung capacity and daily scores
Additional Things to Keep in Mind
In addition to allergic asthma, breathing problems can be triggered by stress, anxiety, physical exertion, poor air quality, the work environment, and strong fumes or smells. Remember, it is important to create an asthma action plan for your child so that you know exactly how to respond in the event of an asthma attack. Include lung test results, symptoms, triggers, medications, doctor information, etc. so that you and your doctor can monitor important data and continually improve the response plan.
Even if you don’t think your child needs a pediatric pulmonologist, always be ready to visit one in the event of an emergency. Keep names, numbers, and addresses on file. Organization plays a key role in asthma maintenance and safety. Your child’s health is the utmost priority.