If coughing keeps you up all night long or you often struggle to breathe, you may benefit from seeing a respiratory therapist. A respiratory therapist is a certified medical professional who specializes in providing breathing treatments and education for those with lung cancer, asthma, emphysema, bronchitis, pneumonia and other lung diseases.
People who suffer from lung disease, smoke or are older than 65 with a chronic illness may be referred to a respiratory therapist to manage respiratory problems.
- Emergency: Respiratory therapists step in when patients are recovering from heart or lung surgery. They also assist during complicated surgeries when respiratory aid is needed.
- Adult: Respiratory therapists focus on helping adults manage chronic diseases like cystic fibrosis, emphysema and sleep apnea. They also sometimes manage support groups to help adults curb habits like smoking.
- Pediatric: Pediatric respiratory therapists often work in hospitals and specialize in treating children and infants with breathing problems.
- Geriatric: As you get older, your lungs do, too. Respiratory therapy helps seniors enhance their overall breathing abilities and manage diseases like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and bronchial pneumonia.
While most respiratory therapists work in hospitals, there are opportunities to receive care in nursing facilities, outpatient centers and at home. If you think you could benefit from the help of a respiratory therapist, talk to your primary care physician about care options.