Pulmonology is a branch of medicine which is concerned with the function of the respiratory system, including the lungs and bronchial tubes. It is usually considered a specialty within the larger field of internal medicine, although pulmonology also intersects with intensive care, emergency care, and cardiothoracic surgery. Specialists in this field are known as pulmonologists, and they may work in hospital settings, clinics, and outpatient practices.A number of conditions can be assessed and treated by a pulmonologist, including hereditary conditions which affect the lungs, lung trauma, chronic conditions, acquired diseases, infections, and cancers. Specialists in this field are usually focused on keeping the airway open so that patients can breathe freely. Keeping the airway open also makes the patient more comfortable, giving the doctor time to develop a treatment plan to manage or treat the condition which has caused impaired lung function.
Specialists in pulmonology are usually consulted when it becomes evident that a patient has a lung problem. While other doctors can treat lung conditions, pulmonary specialists have years of experience working with the lungs, and they are usually informed about the latest and most effective treatments. Some doctors choose to specialize in the management of a particular pulmonary condition, like cystic fibrosis or asthma, developing treatment plans which are tailored to their patients. Others work more generally in pulmonology to provide a variety of treatments which can range from administrations of medication to management of a mechanical ventilator.