There are a number of different doctors who can help diagnose and treat your asthma, depending on your age and general health. You will likely want to start with your primary care doctor. They can refer you to a specialist if necessary.
If you are experiencing any asthma-like symptoms, start by making an appointment with your primary healthcare provider. Your doctor can obtain all the necessary background medical information and advise you on your next steps.
If it’s your child who has the symptoms, you should see their pediatrician. A pediatrician is an internist with special training in caring for children. Once your child has been checked out for other possible causes for the symptoms, your pediatrician can refer you to a specialist for specific testing and treatment.
You may be referred to a pulmonologist. This is a specialist who has training in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of lung and respiratory illnesses. A pulmonologist can treat asthma and other breathing conditions, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), pneumonia, and emphysema.
An allergist is a pediatrician or internist who has undergone additional training in issues of the immune system. Often, asthma is the result of an unusual or overly intense response to normally harmless compounds. An allergist or immunologist can evaluate your symptoms, perform diagnostic testing, and determine whether your immune system is the source of your asthma.
Respiratory therapists are specially trained professionals who treat airway and breathing problems caused by asthma and other disorders. They can guide you through breathing treatments and exercises to help restore your lung function.
A little preparation before your appointment can help you make the most of your time with the doctor. Be prepared to answer questions about your personal medical history, family history, and details about your asthma symptoms. Write down all the details you can before your appointment so the information will be on hand when you need it.
Here are some sample questions you may want to pose to the doctor yourself:
- How do I know if I have asthma or just an allergy?
- Do I need allergy testing before you can treat my asthma symptoms?
- Will I have to take shots? Or use an inhaler?
- What is the medicine used in inhalers? What are the side effects?
- Can I do anything to prevent my asthma attacks?