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Many breathing problems are chronic or long-term, leading to discomfort and preventing you and your body from functioning properly. If you’re struggling to catch your breath, we want to help. Premier Medical Associates has a pulmonology team to provide respiratory medicine, testing, and care for pneumonia, tuberculosis, emphysema, and more breathing problems. And should you require hospitalization at any time, team members Dr. Shari and Dr. Obringer will quickly provide care or coordinate care with Premier’s hospitalist team at Forbes Hospital and UPMC East - making your medical journey as easy on you as possible. If the simple act of breathing ever stops being simple, contact us and allow us to help you find relief.
Premier Medical Associates, an affiliate of the Allegheny Health Network, is the largest multi-specialty physician practice in the Greater Pittsburgh area. Our pulmonary specialists see patients in our offices at One Monroeville Center and at West Penn Hospital.
A pulmonologist is a physician who specializes in the respiratory system. These physicians specialize in treating breathing problems and symptoms throughout this system. While short-lasting illnesses of the respiratory system can often be managed by your regular doctor, a pulmonologist is your resource for chronic cough, shortness of breath, and other respiratory symptoms.
When you visit with a pulmonologist, they may use a range of different testing tools to determine how healthy your lungs are - or aren’t - overall. Examples of procedures we may conduct to help diagnose your condition include the following:
Our pulmonology team provides respiratory medicine to patients to advance the treatment of multiple conditions. Examples of conditions that we can help with include pneumonia, tuberculosis, and emphysema.
Keep reading to learn more about our care for these illnesses:
About: Emphysema is a long-term (i.e. chronic) and progressive disease of the lungs, and is a type of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Most cases of emphysema are due to cigarette smoking. Emphysema creates breathing problems in patients due to the air sacs in the lungs (alveoli) being damaged over time. This damage, in turn, reduces the ability of the lungs to do their job, i.e. to provide oxygen to the patient and their body.
Types: There are three types of emphysema that are categorized based on their presentation. Centriacinar emphysema refers to cases where damage to the lungs primarily spreads in the upper half of the lungs; this type is also often associated with cigarette use. Panacinar emphysema typically develops in the lower half of the lungs, and is connected to a genetic disease. And paraseptal emphysema - which is associated with inflammation and prior lung problems and infections - is most likely to localize within the intricate structures of the lung's many tissues, membranes, and air sacs.
Symptoms: Shortness of breath and chronic cough are the main symptoms of emphysema, and are the two symptoms that appear early in the development of the disease. Over time, patients are likely to also suffer from frequent lung infections; wheezing; fatigue; blue-tinged lips and fingernail beds (due to lack of oxygen); sleep problems; and anxiety and depression.
Treatment: Treatment for this condition depends heavily on how advanced it is. And while emphysema cannot be cured, it can be managed and patients can keep it from becoming worse. Inhalers (with bronchodilator medications or steroids), antibiotics, oxygen therapy, and pulmonary rehabilitation are all helpful tools in treating this health issue.
About: Tuberculosis (TB) is a rare bacterial infection that affects the lungs. TB bacteria are spread via an infected individual's coughing or sneezing. Though cases of this disease are rare overall, patients with TB can be found throughout the United States; and this condition can be fatal if it’s not properly treated. If you think you've been exposed to someone with tuberculosis, call your doctor.
Types: While all cases of TB are bacterial in nature, this disease can fall into several different categories. "Active TB disease" refers to when an individual is experiencing symptoms due to the rapid growth of the TB bacteria and infection. "Miliary TB" is a rare subset of active TB that occurs specifically when the bacteria get into a patient's bloodstream. The remaining TB infections are referred to as "latent infections", because these individuals do not develop symptoms. Still, in these cases, patients may develop active TB later in time; and patients remain contagious as long as they are infected, even if they are not suffering from side effects themselves. To diagnose these different types of TB, a TB test (that may include skin and/or blood tests) will be necessary.
Symptoms: Many people infected with TB bacteria do not have symptoms. In cases where symptoms do develop, patients often suffer from a persistent (sometimes blood-tinged) cough, fatigue, weight loss, loss of appetite, fever, and night sweats.
Treatment: Tuberculosis treatment varies from person to person. Because many cases of TB do not present with symptoms, many patients require minimal preventative care while their bodies fight off the inactive bacteria. Patients with active symptoms, however, will require a long course (i.e. six to nine months) of treatment involving multiple antibiotics.
Recovery: Recovering from active TB can take months. However, once you begin to receive treatment, symptoms will improve within a matter of weeks. Because TB bacteria take so long to respond to antibiotics, you MUST adhere to your treatment schedule from beginning to end; otherwise, you may not be able to eliminate your infection.
Premier Medical Associates, an affiliate of the Allegheny Health Network, is the largest multi-specialty physician practice in the Greater Pittsburgh area. When you meet with our primary care providers and respiratory specialists, you’ll meet with professionals who are ready to take the lead in providing care and testing that will make the act breathing easier and will improve your overall health. And should you require hospitalization at any time, team members Dr. Shari and Dr. Obringer will quickly provide care or coordinate care with Premier’s hospitalist team at Forbes Hospital and UPMC East - making your medical journey as easy on you as possible.