What’s the Difference Between an Allergist and a Pulmonologist?

Allergist-PulmonologistPeople who are having difficulty breathing can choose to see an allergist or pulmonologist for diagnosing and treating their condition. Both doctors deal with issues that make it difficult to breathe, but their job descriptions and areas of expertise are quite different.
What Does an Allergist Do?

An allergist is a physician who has a primary specialty in pediatrics, internal medicine or both and has additional years of subspecialty training in diagnosing and managing asthma, allergies and immune deficiencies. They typically see patients suffering from environmental allergies, allergic asthma, chronic or recurrent sinus disease, hives, food and drug allergies, insect allergies, allergic skin conditions and recurrent infections. All of the allergists at Asthma and Allergy Associates are board certified to treat these conditions.

Allergy specialists diagnose their patients’ conditions by providing a variety of tests. They interview the patient, perform a physical examination on the patient and take the patient’s environmental exposure history. They may also perform tests such as allergen skin tests and lung function tests. Once they have diagnosed the patient’s condition, allergy doctors can advise patients in treating the condition, minimizing the allergic response or avoiding the allergic triggers identified.   Many asthma patients are referred by pulmonologists to allergists for allergy evaluation and treatment since this is usually a major underlying trigger for most patients with asthma.

What Does a Pulmonologist Do?

A pulmonologist, or pulmonary specialist, is a doctor who specializes in lung conditions and respiratory diseases as well as any other internal body parts that deal with lung function including the bronchial tubes, upper respiratory tract and heart. Common conditions treated by the pulmonary specialist include pneumonia, asthma, emphysema, lung cancer and complicated chest infections.  Much of the pulmonologist’s care for patients takes place in the hospital and/or intensive care unit.  Some pulmonologists also care for patients with sleep apnea or other sleep-related disorders.

In addition to patient physical examinations and interviews, pulmonary specialists may also perform more complex tests in order to diagnose patient conditions. They may use flexible fiberoptic scopes to look at and biopsy the air passages after sedating the patient.  Pulmonologists also complete medical school and residency training in pediatrics or internal medicine before going on to complete two or three more years of medical training in pulmonology and critical care medicine.

To meet the wonderful allergists, or allergy specialists, at Asthma and Allergy Associates, click HERE to contact us to book an appointment today! The AACOS staff is waiting to help treat you!