If you have asthma, it's important to carefully select an asthma specialist
-- a doctor who understands respiratory problems and treats asthma -- as your
health care provider. Here are some asthma specialists to consider:
Allergist. An allergist is a pediatrician or internist who has taken
additional training to qualify as a specialist in allergy and immunology. An
allergist specializes in allergies, asthma, and allergic asthma.
Ever hear the term "bronchial asthma" and wonder what it means? When people talk about bronchial asthma, they are really talking about asthma, a chronic inflammatory disease of the airways that causes periodic "attacks" of coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, and chest tightness.
According to the CDC, more than 22 million Americans, including 6.5 million children under 18, suffer with asthma today.
Allergies are strongly linked to asthma and to other respiratory diseases such as chronic sinusitis,...
Internist. An internist is a doctor who specializes in internal
medicine -- the study of diseases in adults, particularly those related to
internal organs -- and who has completed three years of training after medical
Otolaryngologist. An otolaryngologist is an ear, nose, and throat
specialist (or ENT) who treats problems with the ears, nose, throat, and
related parts of the head and neck. This surgeon has trained four to five
years in this field after medical school.
Pediatrician. A pediatrician is a doctor who has three years of
special training in the field of pediatrics after medical school graduation. A
pediatrician can diagnose and treat childhood asthma.
Pulmonologist. A pulmonologist has taken two or three additional
years of training following residency in internal medicine or pediatrics to
qualify as a specialist in respiratory diseases. Some pulmonologists may get
additional board certification in critical-care medicine.
Pulmonary Rehabilitation Therapist. While not a physician, this nurse
or respiratory therapist is trained in pulmonary rehabilitation techniques and
can provide asthma support and information on exercise and asthma, lung
function, and stress and asthma. The pulmonary rehabilitation therapist can
help educate you on how to care for your symptoms of asthma.
Questions to Ask When Choosing an Asthma Specialist
Once you determine the type of asthma specialist you want to see, consider
the following questions to help make the best choice:
Is the doctor board certified? This means that the doctor passed a standard
exam given by the governing board in his or her specialty.
Where did the doctor go to medical school? Your local medical society
can provide this information.
Is the doctor involved in any academic pursuits, such as teaching, writing,
or research? Such a doctor may be more up-to-date in the latest
developments in the treatment of asthma.
Where does the doctor have hospital privileges and where are these
hospitals located? Some doctors may not admit patients to certain hospitals,
and this is an important consideration for anyone with a chronic health
Does the doctor accept your particular type of health insurance, or is the
doctor a member of the medical panel associated with your HMO?
Changes in medical coverage may mean that the doctor you now see will not be
the one you see in a year or two. This makes it even more important to
understand your asthma diagnosis fully, stay abreast of treatment methods, and
follow your asthma action plan.
American Lung Association: "Asthma: You and Your Doctor."
Smolley, L. Breathe Right Now, New York: Dell, 1999.
American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology: "What is a board certified