Respiratory Medicine

Respiratory medicine is the diagnosis and treatment of breathing problems and lung conditions.

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What is respiratory medicine?

Respiratory medicine diagnoses and treats conditions that affect your respiratory system. It includes disorders of your nose, throat, larynx, windpipe, lungs and diaphragm.

You are referred to a respiratory medicine specialist by your GP if you have symptoms such as breathlessness, coughing or wheezing, or if you have an abnormal chest x-ray.

A respiratory clinic sees patients and delivers specialist care for patients with a range of problems, many of which are long-term conditions. These include asthma, cancer, lung disease, tuberculosis, cystic fibrosis, pulmonary vascular disorders and sleep-related breathing disorders.

A respiratory medicine consultant may perform or request physiological tests such as spirometry and exercise testing to assess lung function, sleep studies, chest X-rays, CT, MRI and PET scans, and CT-guided lung biopsies.

What are five respiratory diseases?

There are many respiratory diseases. Five respiratory diseases include:

  • asthma - a common lung condition that causes occasional breathing difficulties. Treatments can help manage asthma symptoms.
  • chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) - a group of lung conditions that cause breathing difficulties. Treatment can help slow the progression of the condition and control its symptoms.
  • pulmonary fibrosis - is a lung disease that occurs when lung tissue is damaged and scarred and causes shortness of breath. Treatment aims to relieve this.
  • pneumonia – is inflamed tissue in one or both lungs usually due to a bacterial infection or a virus. Antibiotics and breathing apparatus help alleviate the symptoms.
  • lung cancer – a common and serious cancer. Treatment depends on the type of cancer, how far it has spread, and your general health.

What is the treatment for respiratory diseases?

Your treatment will depend on your respiratory disease. Most often treatment involves managing the symptoms of your condition and supporting your breathing. Inhalers, medications, and antibiotics are some of the common respiratory disease treatments.

For example, asthma treatment may include teaching patients how to manage their condition through to treating a serious asthma attack.

Patients with severe symptoms of pneumonia, likely to be caused by a bacterial infection, are given antibiotics as soon as possible. Pneumonia that is likely to be caused by a virus will not be treated with antibiotics. Fluids may be given intravenously through a drip, and oxygen may be needed to help with breathing. For serious cases of pneumonia, a ventilator in an intensive care unit (ICU) provides breathing assistance.

Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy is a common treatment for obstructive sleep apnoea. It delivers continuous air pressure to help you breathe while you sleep.

If a patient has symptoms related to lung cancer, it is likely that a respiratory medicine doctor will arrange appropriate tests such as a bronchoscopy, a biopsy, a CT scan, a PET-CT scan and an endobronchial ultrasound (EBUS). They will discuss your test results and treatment options.

Why respiratory medicine is important?

Respiratory medicine is important as it helps manage and treat respiratory conditions. Respiratory disease affects one in five people and is the third biggest cause of death in England¹. Therefore, providing care for patients with these conditions helps improve and maintain the quality of life and prevent deaths for a large population of people.

Respiratory medicine also supports many other specialists within a hospital to provide the very best patient care.

What are the costs of respiratory medicine?

The costs of respiratory medicine vary from patient to patient. They will depend on the diagnostic tests required, your condition and the best treatment for it, whether ongoing care is required, and your Ramsay hospital of choice.

You will receive a formal quotation price after your consultation with one of our respiratory medicine specialists. This formal quote will be valid for 60 days.

The costs of respiratory medicine may be covered by medical insurance. We advise you get written confirmation from your insurance provider before your respiratory medicine commences.

If you are paying for yourself, we offer a variety of payment options including interest-free finance.

What is the recovery process after respiratory medicine?

The recovery process after respiratory medicine will depend on what diagnostic test or treatment you have.

If you have a bronchoscopy, you can normally go home the same day and return to your usual daily activities.

Some respiratory diseases are chronic, such as cystic fibrosis, chronic bronchitis and sleep apnoea. This means you may not recover but receive ongoing support to manage them.

Patients with lung cancer will have different recoveries depending on their cancer stage, own health and the recommended treatment. Radiotherapy or chemotherapy can take several months to a year to recover from.

If you have surgery to treat chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases (COPD) such as emphysema or pleural effusion, you will need two to four weeks to recover.

Patients who have a lung transplant can expect to be in intensive care for up to a week and will take three to six months to fully recover.

Respiratory medicine at Ramsay Health Care UK

At Ramsay Health Care, our experts diagnose, manage and treat a range of lung conditions and breathing problems using the latest technology. These include asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), pulmonary fibrosis, pneumonia and lung cancer.

Our respiratory medicine team delivers first-class treatment for respiratory diseases to improve the quality of our patients’ lives. They are a multi-disciplinary team of respiratory specialists, nurses, physiologists and physiotherapists who work with other specialist colleagues including cardiologists, rheumatologists, radiologists, pathologists, cardio-thoracic surgeons and oncologists throughout our hospitals.

We see patients on an inpatient and outpatient basis for their respiratory medicine needs. We offer rapid access to appointments and tests and have a fast-track service for patients with suspected lung cancer.

Complimentary Patient Advice

Our expert consultants are committed to offering excellent care as soon as you need it; that's why they dedicate time to offer complimentary advice, with no obligation, so you can be sure before making a decision. Hear and speak to a Consultant within the speciality of your choice; get the information you need and all your questions answered to help you make a decision on your next steps in your healthcare journey.

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