Respiratory therapy is a medical specialty that aims to manage and improve a patient’s breathing by treating problems with the lungs and greater respiratory system. Patients receive respiratory therapy for conditions like chronic asthma, bronchitis, COPD, pneumonia, and lung cancer. Some demographics, like children and seniors, are also more likely to receive respiratory care as these groups more commonly experience respiratory problems.
Respiratory therapy is delivered by respiratory therapists, specialists who are licensed medical professionals. These specialists are not doctors, as they don’t require medical degrees, but work closely with physicians and nurses to provide patient care.
During respiratory therapy, patients may learn how to perform specific breathing techniques and exercises to alleviate symptoms of conditions causing breathing problems. Some procedures that respiratory therapists commonly perform include oxygen level testing, oxygen therapy, airway management, mucus removal, pulmonary function testing, and intubation. Respiratory therapists also frequently recommend lifestyle adjustments and monitor progress over time.