What is a Pulmonologist?

Your mother often wheezes and seems short of breath. Your partner snores loudly and frequently gasps for air during sleep. After you’ve smoked for years, your doctor says she suspects you have COPD. 

Dr. Michael Lewis

Dr. Michael Lewis

What do each of these scenarios have in common? They’re all scenarios that could send a person to a pulmonologist. Here at Columbia Memorial Hospital, we have the only clinic in the region (the Pulmonology Clinic) focused on the diagnosis and treatment of lung conditions and diseases. (The clinic does not see children.) Our board-certified pulmonologist, Dr. Michael Lewis, staffs the clinic with Stacey Wheeler, PA, who is available full-time, and other medical providers. They are committed to working with you and your loved ones to develop a holistic care plan that considers your physical, mental and emotional care needs, including a referral to the CMH Pulmonary Rehabilitation program

What do pulmonologists do? 

A pulmonologist is a doctor who specializes in diseases of the lungs and respiratory system. Every cell in your body needs oxygen to function. Your respiratory system, together with your circulatory system, delivers that oxygen from your lungs. It also moves carbon dioxide — a waste product created during respiration — from your cells back to your lungs, where it’s exhaled during normal breathing. 

Stacey Wheeler, PA

Stacey Wheeler, PA

Diagnosis and treatment of conditions that affect breathing and the lungs may involve evaluation of various parts of the respiratory tract, including the sinuses, nose, pharynx (throat) and trachea (windpipe). Sometimes, it also involves evaluating other parts of the body, such as the heart. 

Specific symptoms and illnesses a pulmonologist may address include:

  • Asthma
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Chronic cough
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Cystic fibrosis 
  • Lung cancer
  • Pneumonia
  • Pulmonary hypertension
  • Sleep apnea
  • Tuberculosis 

Pulmonologists may also manage ventilators for patients who require breathing assistance. 

Educational Background

Pulmonology is a subspecialty of internal medicine. As a result, pulmonologists generally attend medical school for four years and then receive three years of additional training before becoming board-certified as internists. Following that, they study diseases specific to the lungs for an additional two to three years. Some pulmonologists may specialize in pediatrics rather than internal medicine. 

To make an appointment with the Pulmonology Clinic at CMH, call 503-338-4516.