About respiratory physicians
Respiratory physicians are medical doctors with special training and skills in the diagnosis and treatment of lung conditions and diseases.
Paediatric respiratory physicians specialise in lung diseases in children and teenagers.
Respiratory physicians might work with people who have sleep disorders, but they must do special training to be certified as sleep physicians.
Respiratory physicians are also known as thoracic physicians or pulmonologists.
If your child has health or development concerns, health professionals like respiratory physicians are there to care for your child and help you understand your child’s condition and treatment. With the support and expertise of these professionals, you can help your child thrive.
Why your child might see a respiratory physician
If your child has breathing problems, they might see a respiratory physician. A respiratory physician might also treat breathing problems related to conditions like asthma, cystic fibrosis, persistent cough and other lung conditions.
If your child sees a respiratory physician, the physician will examine your child, looking carefully at your child’s growth, heart and lungs. The physician might do a test to see how well your child’s lungs are working or order an X-ray to find out what’s going on.
The respiratory physician will also work out the best treatment for your child, which might include medication like a puffer.
To see a respiratory physician, your child will need a referral from your GP or another medical specialist – for example, a paediatrician. Your GP or other doctor can help you decide about seeing a respiratory physician and help you find someone who’s right for your child.
Before going to a respiratory physician
Before seeing a respiratory physician, it’s a good idea to find out about the things like the following:
- Why you’re going: talk with your GP or the specialist who referred you about why you need to see a respiratory physician.
- Appointments: do you need to make the appointment, or will the GP make it for you? Does the appointment need to be in person, or can it be via telehealth?
- Waiting lists: how long before you can get an appointment to see the respiratory physician?
- Is there anything you can do while you’re waiting for the appointment? For example, can your child start some treatment or therapy?
- Costs: how much will the appointment with the respiratory physician cost? Check whether you can get money back from Medicare or private health insurance.
- Locations: find out where you have to go to see the respiratory physician – for example, public hospital, private hospital or consulting rooms.
You can ask your GP these and any other questions before you go to the respiratory physician. You could also ask the respiratory physician’s clinic when you make your appointment. It’s a good idea to write down your questions, so you don’t forget.