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Respiratory Therapy 101 – What Is Respiratory Therapy?

Respiratory Therapy is an allied health specialty focused on the care and management of a patient’s respiration (i.e. breathing).


Respiratory therapy can make a world of difference when it comes to improving outcomes for patients suffering from lung diseases, which killed more than 4.6 million Americans between 1980 and 2014. These diseases include asthma, pneumonia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD), lung trauma, and other diagnoses related to lung function. Apart from providing direct care, our nurses can also assess your breathing, recommend the appropriate exercises to improve it, and track your progress.


Below are a few other things you can expect when seeking respiratory therapy.


Assessment and Monitoring of Patient Health


Patients seeking respiratory therapy typically undergo a variety of tests to determine the degree of their breathing problem. For example, an RT will usually conduct a test to measure your lung capacity or draw your blood to analyze how oxygenated it is.


Based on the results of these tests, our nurses can create a treatment plan that consists of specific therapies, medications, and milestones to measure your progress. During treatment, you will be monitored closely to assess your reaction to medication and therapy, with all findings recorded in your patient’s chart. Your nurse will also make adjustments to your treatment plan when necessary.


Use of Equipment to Aid in Breathing


Depending on the nature of your breathing or lung problems, you may need to use certain equipment to improve your respiratory function. For example, to provide relief to patients with asthma, COPD, or cystic fibrosis, a respiratory therapist may use a nebulizer to deliver medication in the form of an inhalable mist. In the case of nebulizers, this mist is a faster way to reduce bronchial swelling in the lungs.


Patients with more severe breathing problems may need to be admitted to a hospital and attached to a ventilator, a mechanical device that “breathes” for them.


Physical Therapy to Assist with Breathing


Apart from respiratory equipment, some patients may need special physical therapy to improve their breathing. For example, patients with cystic fibrosis or pneumonia can benefit from certain forms of physiotherapy.


Respiration-related physiotherapy usually involves tapping the patient’s chest area and upper back to loosen and dislodge mucus clogging the lungs and bronchial tubes, helping the patient cough them out as phlegm.


Respiratory therapy can also involve our nurses teaching you different breathing exercises that strengthen the muscles involved in breathing or increase their lung capacity. For example, sitting straight and breathing slowly can provide some relief in an asthma attack.


When It Comes to Respiratory Therapy, Trust the Experts


Something as sensitive and crucial as lung function needs to be handled with the utmost care. At Princeton Health Care Center, our team of professional nurses use the latest healthcare techniques and equipment to provide a high level of care to our patients. If you or a loved one are in need of respiratory therapy, contact Princeton Health Care Center today to learn more about how we can help you breathe easier.

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