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Respiratory Therapy

What is respiratory therapy?

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.

Why is respiratory therapy important in healthcare?

Respiratory therapy is an essential specialty dedicated to helping patients manage respiratory issues. Problems with breathing can lead to chronic discomfort for patients. Physically, patients may experience chest pain and shortness of breath. Physical symptoms can often lead to mental symptoms like fatigue and stress, as well. Respiratory conditions, if left unmanaged, can make day-to-day life very challenging, and, in some instances, may cause severe and lasting damage to the respiratory system. By receiving regular respiratory therapy, patients can experience better health outcomes and quality of life.