Diagnosing Lung Disease
Sometimes we write off shortness of breath or a persistent cough to getting older or bad weather or that little cold that is making the rounds. Sometimes that is all it is. Sometimes it's not. You should talk to your doctor about a complete lung health check-up if you have any of the following symptoms:
- Chronic cough that lasts more than a month
- Shortness of breath for no reason or that doesn't go away after you sit down and relax
- Labored or difficult breathing
- Feeling like you're not getting enough air when you breathe in
- Wheezing or otherwise noisy breathing
- Coughing up blood
- Over-production of mucus (sputum or phlegm) for long periods of time when you don't have a cold
- Chest pain that doesn't go away for more than a month
- Chest pain that gets worse when you breathe or cough
If you are one of the millions of people who suffers from unexplained breathing problems, it is important to talk to your primary care provider about getting a referral to a pulmonary specialist.
At UM Capital we use the latest diagnostic techniques to diagnose lung health problems.
Pulmonary Function Testing
Pulmonary Function Testing (PFT) helps to assess how well your lungs are working and includes three basic tests:
- Spirometry measures how much air you actually breathe in and exhale;
- Plethysmography determines lung volume;
- Diffusion Capacity looks at how well the small air sacks in your lungs work and how well your lungs transfer oxygen and carbon dioxide to your blood.
All PFT testing is non-invasive and performed by a Registered Respiratory Therapist in one of our PFT Labs in Laurel and National Harbor, MD.
Non-invasive Diagnostic imaging
Non-invasive Diagnostic imaging takes pictures of your chest including you lungs and heart and provide a clear picture of what is going on inside your chest.
Imaging tests are non-invasive and may include:
- A chest X-ray takes a picture of your lungs, heart and rib cage to look for large masses or concentrations of fluid in the lungs;
- Computed Tomography (CT) Scans offer a more detailed view of the structure of your chest, including your lungs and heart, showing things that are not visible on an X-ray, including blood clots or pulmonary embolisms;
- Low Dose Computed Tomography (LDCT) Scans use very small amounts of radiation to create a very detailed picture of your lungs to identify very small growths and masses. LDCT scanning can detect lung cancer and other tumors before the patient shows any symptoms of discomfort, allowing potentially severe diseases to be caught while they are highly treatable.
- Echocardiogram is an ultrasound that looks at how lung disease may be affecting your heart.
Your pulmonary care specialist can perform these tests and, in many cases, more complex testing such as Endobronchial Ultrasound EBUS) available at the UM Prince George's Hospital Center. EBUS uses a thin, flexible tube equipped with a camera that is inserted down the patient's nose or throat into the lungs so the doctor can see what is happening inside the lungs. It is used to diagnose and stage advanced lung disease, including lung cancer, and can be used to take biopsies of tumors and masses, allowing the doctor to offer a more thorough care plan.