Respiratory Specialist

Just wondered if anyone has had any experience of being referred to a respiratory specialist and what I might expect from my appointment?! Gps and Asthma Nurse still baffled by my ongoing chest problems (SOB,tight/heavy chest,palpitations,no cough or wheezing) Chest xrays show lung inflamation, Peak Flow at best 400 but no lower than 330, Spriometer test shows some reversability however not enough improvement made after going into week 3 of preds. Using Clenil twice day and also my Ventolin most days as well. Symptoms especially difficult at night time. Gps do think Asthma of some description is the likely cause but wont formally diagnose until 100% sure.

Im a bit nervous about the appoint, (which Ihavent got a date for yet) and wondered if anyone can share their experiences of what tests they might do. Ive heard theres one where they take blood from the artery in your wrist? Obviously I know that everyones appointments are individual to them but hearing others experiences and being prepared might put my mind at rest a little. Thanks!

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  • HI Caroline,

    Been there done that - in two different hospitals (I moved)! (I'm also a bit odd and was hard to diagnose - in the end my GP did it). I have had most tests, which you may well not need as it sounds like they have a few more pointers with you than they did with me as initially I just had breathlessness then added cough (also no wheeze here though). There are other threads on here asking about this so have a search but I will also share my experience.

    I have never had an arterial blood gas (that's the one from artery in your wrist) done at a general resp outpatient clinic. That's not to say it's out of the question but I've never had one and it's not been suggested. You probably will have normal bloods done though, plus a chest X-ray - they never seem to be happy with X-rays anyone else has done and esp if you've had one showing inflammation will probably do another one. They'll probably also do a more elaborate set of lung function tests - maybe same day, maybe have to make an appt.

    With palpitations it's also possible you might end up in cardiology as well - I had some heart tests (ECG of various kinds, echo) done the first time round and then referred to a cardiologist for (mainly repeat) tests second time round, because of fast pulse rate. These are all fine too, though I was too breathless to do a proper treadmill test.

    At the resp appt, generally you go into the nurse and get weighed and measured. When you get called into the dr (who may be the consultant or a registrar) they'll ask a million questions (most of which you'll be used to answering but it may help to write everything down beforehand and even give it to the dr if you think you'll get nervous and forget - this happens to me). They'll do an examination of some sort, which is more or less thorough depending on the doctor and whether they already have an idea what's wrong (I had a thorough one from the registrar the first time and a pretty perfunctory one from the consultant the second time). You might have had some tests before seeing the doctor, if they already know what they want to do, or they might send you off for them afterwards if there's anything that comes up in the appt making them think you need a particular test - first time I was sent off for bloods, X-ray and ECG right away, and arrange lung function. They'll arrange follow-up appt and generally if you hear nothing re tests before the appt you can assume they were ok.

    I have rambled on at extreme length, sorry, but I hope this helps. Feel free to PM me if you want to ask more, especially if they come up with any more exotic tests as I may well have had them!

  • Thanks for sharing your experience Philomela,its good to know what I might expect. Also good advice about writing everything down,I normally have a list of things I want to ask or discuss when I see the GP or Nurse and always kick myself when I come out for forgetting something. Although nervous,I am really happy to be referred to a specialist so I can hopefully get some answers after 2 months of being in the dark with everything. Fingers Crossed!!

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