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Respiratory medicine

Treatment focusing on the lungs, with the two main symptoms that patients present with being a cough and breathlessness

Respiratory medicine focuses on the lungs, with the two main symptoms that patients present with being a cough and breathlessness.

There are lots of conditions that can lead to this, says our Consultant Physician, who specialises in respiratory medicine here at BMI St Edmunds.

Below, we take a closer look at these symptoms.


If a patient has a persistent cough for more than three weeks, it does need to be looked at. If a cough has persisted for eight weeks or longer, though, it is referred to as a chronic cough.

Patients often worry that a cough can be an indicator of a serious underlying problem, so seeing a GP and having a chest x-ray is important.

Conditions that can cause a cough include:

  • Infections
  • Asthma
  • Problems relating to the nose and sinus
  • Issues relating to the stomach.

It’s important to get an accurate diagnosis early on, so that you have the right treatment. Plus, we don’t want to miss a serious condition like lung cancer here in clinic, so it’s important to exclude this, or confirm, it at a very early stage.

If a cough is left untreated, it can become a chronic problem, which can impact the quality of a person’s life.


Breathlessness can indicate lung disease and shouldn’t be ignored. It usually occurs when you are trying to do something – i.e., breathlessness on exertion. This may indicate underlying lung problems, such as

  • Asthma
  • Smoking related lung diseases, such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).

Many other conditions can lead to breathlessness, and they are not all are related to the lungs, so it’s important to make sure that heart disease isn’t present, or other problems.

It’s also important to note that, with both symptoms mentioned above, an accurate and timely diagnosis is needed, so you’re not being treated for the wrong thing.

We also see patients who present with symptoms including:

  • Wheezing
  • Chest pain
  • Scarring on the lungs
  • Pneumonia.

During the consultation, we will:

  • Take a full medical history
  • Examine the patient
  • Conduct a breathing test – known as a spirometry*, which would help to diagnose asthma and COPD more accurately
  • Perform an x-ray, if necessary.

*A simple test used to help diagnose and monitor certain lung conditions by measuring how much air you can breathe out in one forced breath; a spirometry is performed using a device called a spirometer. This is a small machine, which is attached by a cable to a mouthpiece.

This would be done during your consultation here at BMI St Edmunds, if needed.

At the end of the 45-minute consultation, our Consultant would have spoken to the patient, listened to their concerns, conducted an examination, performed a spirometry and taken an x-ray (if they didn’t already have one).

At the end of the consultation, our Consultant can usually:

  • Diagnose and offer a treatment plan
  • Refer to further investigation and specialised tests, which can be arranged at this point and help lead to a diagnosis later.

Telephone and video consultations are available; however, they are limited in use (we can’t examine or perform a breathing test, for example) and they may only be more suitable for patients with long-standing conditions.

They can also be used for patients who might require a second opinion, but ace-to-face appointments will continue to be welcomed by both patient and clinician alike.

There are several reasons why you might choose BMI St Edmunds for your consultation.

If you are a self-paying patient, you can find out exactly what you will pay for treatment before you commit to anything.

Quiet Clinic Rooms

A tranquil setting with quiet clinic rooms, we can perform x-rays on site, which means you can have your x-ray at the same time as your respiratory consultation here at the hospital.

With 26 beds, each offering the privacy and comfort of en-suite facilities, views of the gardens, TV and high-speed Wi-Fi, BMI St Edmunds is a great choice for respiratory treatment.

There are three main theatres here, one of which has been installed with lamina flow (clean air filter system).

A Dedicated Day Case Recovery Area

We also have a dedicated day case recovery area in our comfortable conservatory, where you can relax after your day case procedure until you are discharged from our care. If you are staying with us, room service is provided to all inpatients by our catering team. Our chef creates daily special menus, and all dietary needs are catered for.

For those travelling by car, we have ample car parking spaces around the grounds, with a drop-off bay and disabled spaces directly opposite the entrance to the main hospital entrance.

These facilities, combined with the latest in technology and on-site support services, enable our Consultants to undertake a wide range of procedures within respiratory medicine. These include routine investigations mentioned above, and complex surgery.

A ‘One-Stop Shop’ for Patients

Allergy testing is also available here at BMI St Edmunds – and it’s extremely convenient for the patient; they can get their results there and then (without waiting for tests to be sent off). The clinic is basically a ‘one-stop shop’, says our Respiratory Medicine Physician.

Here are a handful of reasons why you might choose BMI St Edmunds for your respiratory condition consultation:

  • Reduced waiting times – Patients who visit BMI St Edmunds Hospital can, of course, benefit from shorter waiting times than they would if, say, they were to pursue treatment on the NHS.
  • Flexible appointments at a time to suit you – You can choose an appointment time to suit you and your schedule. In some cases, remote consultations will be offered.
  • Consultant-led appointments – Your appointment at BMI St Edmunds will always be consultant-led.
  • You’ll see the same person each time you visit - From your consultation, right through to any treatment needed, you will meet with the same person here in our clinic.
  • Patient satisfaction and personalised care – In an independent survey* in 2020, 99% of our patients said they would recommend BMI St Edmunds Hospital, and the hospital has a CQC overall rating of ‘Good’. *Results compiled by healthcare agency, Quality Health.         

BMI St Edmunds Hospital covers a wide catchment area. Patients visit from a host of other towns and cities in the region, including Bury St Edmunds itself, Norwich, Kings Lynn, Ipswich, Cambridge, Newmarket, Stowmarket, Thetford and more.

Want to make a consultation with our respiratory medicine specialist at BMI St Edmunds Hospital? You can get in touch with our team by calling 01284 701371.

You can also use our handy online booking system to make your appointment.

Specialists offering Respiratory medicine

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