Pulmonary Medicine

Breathe easier and enjoy a better quality of life with expert care from pulmonologists at Essentia Health.

What's a Pulmonologist?

A pulmonologist is an internal medicine doctor with specialized training in the diagnosis and treatment of conditions that affect the respiratory system. Pulmonologists treat conditions in the lungs, upper airways, thoracic cavity, and chest wall. It is not uncommon for pulmonologists to also specialize in sleep medicine and/or critical care.

When to See a Pulmonologist

Your primary care doctor can diagnose and treat most common respiratory and pulmonary conditions. See a health care provider if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Chronic cough
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Asthma symptoms, including shortness of breath, wheezing, or tightness in your chest

If you have severe symptoms you will be referred to a pulmonologist.

Conditions Treated

See the full list of conditions we treat, and select a condition to find providers and locations near you.


Pulmonary Medicine Services

Take advantage of exceptional care and treatment for your lung and breathing conditions, including:

Adult Asthma Care

If you have chronic asthma, we will perform a comprehensive evaluation to help you fully understand your condition. We will recommend treatment options and work with you to create an individualized plan to improve your breathing.

Your care plan may include:

  • Strategies to identify and control environmental triggers
  • Medications
  • Metered dose or dry powder inhaler
  • Bronchial thermoplasty (BT)

Bronchial Thermoplasty Video Transcript


The Essentia Health logo appears, consisting of three leaves in a circle. Text, Medical Insight. A video depicts a couple walking through a field holding hands, followed by a photograph of a woman, and another of a man, using a rescue inhaler.

TRACY BRIGGS: For some people, nothing is more relaxing than a walk outside. But for the two million Americans suffering from severe asthma, it's no walk in the park. Pollen, mold, cold air, and more can trigger an asthma attack with difficulty breathing, coughing, and wheezing. Now there's more hope for severe asthma attacks, a new procedure called bronchiothermoplasty. DR. KAROL KREMENS:

Dr. Karol Kremens, interventional pulmonologist, speaks to the camera.

It's a really nice, nice new procedure that changes their life basically. TRACY BRIGGS: Dr. Karol Kremens is an interventional pulmonologist at Essentia Health in Fargo. He says Essentia has been working to become the first provider in North Dakota to offer bronchiothermoplasty or BT.

An animation is displayed of a human body, with the lungs highlighted. Text, Animation courtesy of Boston Scientific.

To understand how it works, you must first understand what happens with asthma. During an asthma attack the bronchial tube lining swells causing air waves to narrow reducing airflow in and out of the lungs. Most people with asthma can control symptoms with medication. But for those that can't, there's BT.

The animation depicts a scope making its way through the airways, the tip expands, and distributes energy to the tissue walls.

Dr. Kremens says during BT, they insert a tube with a camera called a bronchioscope and use a catheter to heat up air waves to the temperature of a warm cup of coffee. DR. KAROL KREMENS: That heat disrupts the airway smooth muscle that surrounds the airway, and the disruption over time thins the muscle and disrupts how it's linked with itself so that it no longer has the same capability to squeeze the airway tight. TRACY BRIGGS: Kremens says the procedure has provided great results for patients. DR. KAROL KREMENS: The first gentleman was able to shovel snow for the first time in many years, because, yes, he still has asthma, but now it no longer provokes such a severe asthma exacerbation. So yeah, they're doing really good. TRACY BRIGGS: Dr. Kremens says bronchiothermoplasty patients will not be cured of their asthma. Most will remain on at least some medication. But studies do show BT patients will be doing better after a year and have fewer visits to the emergency room. With this Essential Health Medical Insight, I'm Tracy Briggs.

The Essentia Health logo appears, consisting of three leaves in a circle. Text, Medical Insight.

Thoracic Surgery

If your condition requires surgery on your heart, lungs, esophagus, or other organs in your chest, your pulmonologist will refer you to a cardiothoracic surgeon at Essentia Health.

Breathe and Sleep Better

Explore sleep medicine services at Essentia. Count on us for diagnosis of a wide range of sleep disorders, including sleep apnea. Our specialists can deliver breathing care and treatment to keep your airway open while you sleep—so you can get a better night’s sleep.

Ask for a Referral

You’ll need a referral from your primary care provider or a specialist for this service.

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