Asthma: Why See a Specialist?

Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Was this helpful?

Asthma is a complex disease that affects everyone differently. That’s why all asthma patients should follow a customized treatment plan tailored to their specific needs. But your primary care doctor may not have all the information you need to manage your asthma successfully.

That’s where specialists come in: an asthma specialist, called a pulmonologist, has the right skills and insight to help you stay in control of your asthma. Here’s why:

1. A pulmonologist completes extensive training in asthma and is an expert in asthma care.

A pulmonologist is a physician who specializes in treating diseases related to the respiratory system. The respiratory system is involved in many aspects of human health, so pulmonologists must train extensively to master this area of study. A pulmonologist will have expertise in treating asthma, COPD, and other conditions related to the respiratory system.

All doctors complete a training program called a residency after they finish medical school. But pulmonologists receive considerable training beyond that. Pulmonologists spend several additional years in a fellowship, in which they train under experienced pulmonologists and focus on patients with asthma, COPD, and other issues affecting the respiratory system. At the end of this period, specialists are qualified to take an exam to become board-certified pulmonologists. Look for a doctor who is board certified in pulmonary disease, and you’ll know you’re seeing an expert. 

2. A pulmonologist never stops learning about asthma.

To maintain their board certifications, pulmonologists must keep up with new developments in their field. They must complete continuing education and renew their licenses every few years, depending on the state in which they practice and other factors. By following these requirements, board-certified pulmonologists stay on top of new treatments and discoveries about the mechanisms involved in asthma, so they can then provide their patients with insightful, informed, and up-to-date treatment plans.

3. A pulmonologist has extensive experience in treating asthma.

Pulmonologists see a higher volume and concentration of patients with asthma, and thus are more experienced in treating the condition successfully. Because they see lots of patients with asthma, they can add real-world knowledge of the disease to their academic and clinical training. They’re able to assess how well patients respond to certain treatments, have a deeper understanding of how asthma progresses over time, share insight about effectively implementing lifestyle changes, and recognize symptoms that a general practitioner may miss, among other skills.

4. A pulmonologist is a team player.

Pulmonologists work with teams of other health care providers who treat patients with asthma and can connect patients with allergists, nurse practitioners, nutritionists, exercise physiologists, and other experts in asthma management. Working with a team can help patients address all aspects of the disease and ensure success.

5. It’s easy to find the right pulmonologist for you.

There are thousands of pulmonologists in the United States, so how do you know which is the right doctor for you? By searching on, you can identify the best pulmonologist to help you manage your asthma successfully.

Was this helpful?
Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2020 Dec 30
View All Asthma Articles
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.