What kind of doctor is best for a COPD patient?

Jwkm asked...

Hello, my husband has had COPD for many years now. He has always had a regular physician. What kind of Doctor is the best for a COPD patient?

Expert Answer

Loutfi S. Aboussouan is a staff physician for the Cleveland Clinic's Respiratory Institute and Neurological Institute. He is board certified in internal medicine, pulmonary disease, critical care medicine, and sleep medicine and directs the pulmonary curriculum for the second-year class of the Cleveland Clinic Lerner School of Medicine.

Your husband's regular physician may well be able to handle his management of COPD, particularly is he is uncomplicated. However, a doctor for COPD (a pulmonary doctor) should probably get involved for more complicated decisions associated with COPD that may or not apply to your husband.

Some examples of the type of questions a doctor for COPD can handle include: 1. Whether to start oxygen or not and when to give it (all the time, or limited to exertion or at night only) 2. How to prevent and how to treat exacerbations of COPD (these are conditions of worsening cough and phlegm that often require antibiotics and/or steroids) 3. How often to check a chest X-ray or should a CAT scan of the chest be done instead. 4. Whether to check for associated conditions such as sleep apnea that can worsen the drop in oxygen at night in patients with COPD. 5. Decide on participation in a pulmonary rehabilitation program

The involvement of the pulmonary physician can also vary from an initial visit with recommendations to the internist, to full responsibility for the management of the lung condition. As with all conditions, your husband's regular physician is probably in the best position to decide on these issues.