by Leslie Farin
Breathing is underrated
Eve Ensler, the American playwright and performer once said,
“I wake up every day and I think, I’m breathing! It’s a good day!”
Who needs to see a pulmonologist?
Many people go their whole life without a visit to a pulmonologist. Primary care doctors can handle our mild or short-term conditions, such as a cough associated with allergies or a cold. If the problem persists, the logical next is an appointment with an allergist or an ear, nose and throat specialist (ENT). It usually isn’t until the issues continue for more than eight weeks or become severe that you need a referral to a board certified pulmonologist. Diseases commonly evaluated and treated by this type of specialist include asthma, chronic obstructive lung disease (COPD), emphysema, lung cancer, interstitial and occupational lung diseases and pulmonary hypertension.
What makes a good pulmonologist?
Recently, I visited with Howard Mintz, M.D, FCCP, PLLC, a Dallas based lung and sleep disorder specialist with 39 years experience. I asked him for his opinion about what makes a good pulmonologist. His response made a lot of sense. He said,
“A good pulmonologist must first and foremost be a good internal medicine physician. It’s essential to have the skills and knowledge to treat the “whole” person, not just the organ.”
This perspective is one I greatly appreciate. Our body parts do not function independently, and it’s important to consider the whole picture. Unfortunately, sometimes it seems as though physicians focus entirely on just their one piece. Dr. Mintz added,
“Pulmonologists must also be able to communicate clearly with the patient, their family, their referring physician and other members of the healthcare team. Once a care plan is in place, everyone must work together to achieve the best results.”
When an old school mentality combines with outstanding skills
In the rapidly changing world of medicine, Dr. Mintz seems to have somewhat of an “old school” philosophy. He remains a solo practitioner who provides thorough and compassionate patient care in his office. He values his relationships with his patients and their families, and does not back down from the difficult situations. In fact, he welcomes them, and receives referrals from internists, family practitioners, cardiologists and rheumatologists, often for the most complicated cases.
Dr. Mintz’s practice itself is not at all old-school; it’s extremely progressive. He relies on the most recent medical research to treat his patients. Additionally, he works diligently to provide accurate diagnoses through comprehensive histories and physical exams, followed by state of the art diagnostic testing.
A caring and thorough bedside manner combined with exceptional skill and expertise is exactly what I look for in a pulmonologist. The cases this type of specialist sees in the office are complex, I want both these qualities in my doctor.
Long Term COVID Symptoms
Though pulmonologists treat a wide variety of respiratory illnesses, COVID is the one that receives the most attention in our chaotic world these days. During the first few months of the pandemic, as the world struggled to stop the spread of the virus, hospitals did their best to cope with the influx of cases. Now, fewer individuals are in the hospital, but pulmonologists see increasing numbers of post Covid19 patients in their offices with post infectious complications.
Many Covid survivors report long term symptoms, proving the virus stays with patients long after their CDC recommended two week self-isolation ends. These “Long-haulers” experience a prolonged shortness of breath, cough and profound fatigue, among other issues, for months. Dr. Mintz sees patients who say they feel like they have a flu that just won’t go away.
A Fellow of the American College of Chest Physicians and a member of the Dallas County Medical Society and the Texas Medical Association, Dr. Mintz was named among the top doctors in Dallas in D Magazine for many consecutive years. He’s also included among the Texas Super Doctors and Castle Connolly Top Doctors.