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Respiratory therapy is a medical specialty that treats lung and respiratory disorders by improving patients' breathing and airflow. A respiratory therapist will monitor patients diagnosed with respiratory disorders. Respiratory therapists may conduct physical exams of the chest and evaluate patients' breathing and lung capacity. They may also manage respiratory equipment and train patients and their families on proper usage. Respiratory therapists frequently work in hospital facilities, where they can assist pulmonologists by recording patients' vital signs and collecting blood samples for oxygen level testing.
Conditions that respiratory therapists treat include asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases (COPD), such as pulmonary emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Respiratory therapists may also see patients with cystic fibrosis or other lung ailments. While these conditions currently have no cure, symptoms may be mitigated with a variety of therapeutic treatments, which can include:
Respiratory therapists frequently work in hospital facilities and may collaborate with pulmonologists, thoracic surgeons, and other specialist physicians.