Respiratory medicine is focused on diagnosing and treating a large variety of diseases that occur in the lungs and airways, their linings and blood vessels, and in the nerves and muscles used to breathe.
Respiratory consultants’ extensive medical training allows them to holistically treat patients with a consistent focus of involving the patients in their own care and treatment. Educating the patient and encouraging self-management is crucial to the effective treatment of many respiratory conditions.
Respiratory medicine involves managing diseases that occur in the upper respiratory tract (the nose, pharynx and larynx) and the lower respiratory tract (trachea, bronchi, bronchioles and alveoli).
Respiratory symptoms vary greatly in severity, but If you are experiencing any of these common concerns, consider booking a private appointment with a specialist respiratory consultant:
- Persistent or chronic cough
- Breathlessness - either during exercise or at rest
- Sometimes including chest pain
- COPD Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
- Post-infection symptoms after chest infection
- Pneumonia & post-pneumonia
- Interstitial lung disease (lung fibrosis)
- Lung cancer
- Sleep-related problems - sleep apnoea
- Coughing up bloody mucus
If you are experiencing these symptoms, your consultant will discuss the appropriate investigations required for a fast and accurate diagnosis. Consultants have access to a wide range of diagnostic services, including Chest X-ray, Ultrasound, CT scans, CT pulmonary angiogram, biopsies, blood tests, lung function tests, ECGs and X-rays, should they be necessary to aid diagnosis.
Associated respiratory conditions range from common occurrences to more chronic and serious diseases. Many respiratory conditions like COPD and asthma can be effectively managed with community and primary care, but some are more complicated and require a conclusive diagnosis and tailored treatment plan.
Ross Hall Hospital has the comprehensive facilities and expertise necessary to assist with these conditions. These are three of the most common conditions treated at Ross Hall Hospital:
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) - COPD is a general term used for a variety of lung diseases, such as chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Symptoms include breathlessness and a consistent cough, which are always present to some extent but can become especially bad during a severe exacerbation. Some common treatment options include bronchodilators, a class of drug created to open your airways and aid breathing. The more common steroid inhalers are also regularly prescribed to reduce swelling and inflammation.
If your blood contains low oxygen levels, additional oxygen can be delivered via a cylinder which can be helpful in helping COPD and other breathlessness related conditions. Pulmonary rehabilitation is also commonly prescribed as it helps encourage physical exercise and provides general advice to help improve lung health.
Asthma - During an asthma attack, the muscles surrounding the airways will tighten, narrowing the airways. This lining also becomes inflamed, causing sputum to build, narrowing the airways further and making it harder to breathe. There are many triggers for asthma, such as viral infection, animal fur, pollen, dust, tobacco smoke, or traffic pollution. Treatment is usually presented in the form of an inhaler, and there are two types; reliever inhalers and preventer inhalers.
Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA) - This occurs during the night when your throat muscles relax, letting your throat close, causing you to stop breathing for 10 seconds or more until your brain initiates breathing again. This can happen repeatedly, and you might not have any memory of it occurring, but you won’t have gained a good night’s sleep resulting in a sluggish feeling throughout the day and excessive daytime sleepiness. When OSA is suspected, patients are usually referred to sleep studies for analysis.
Treatment for OSA is dependent on the cause. A misaligned lower jaw is commonly the cause, in which case a mandibular repositioning device called a mandibular advancement splint might be prescribed to keep the airways open. In the majority of cases, however, patients choose continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) as treatment. This is a machine that consistently delivers air through a mask during the night, ensuring the airways stay open and is very effective.