Respiratory care is a specialized area of the healthcare field that primarily treats people who have been diagnosed with diseases and health conditions that affect the heart and lungs. Patients are typically referred to respiratory care to address breathing problems caused by these diseases and conditions.
If your healthcare team has recommended respiratory therapy for you, knowing what to expect from this form of treatment is important so you can make the most of the benefits it can offer to help you better manage your health issues.
About Respiratory Care
Respiratory care providers work with physicians and other healthcare professionals to help patients who have significant breathing impairments. This includes patients of all ages who suffer from lung diseases and disorders, such as asthma, emphysema, COPD, lung cancer, cystic fibrosis, and AIDS-related lung disease, among others.
It also includes patients who have suffered cardiovascular events, which can affect breathing function, such as heart attack or stroke, have been diagnosed with congestive heart failure, or have had traumatic injuries that interfere with efficient lung function.
What to Expect from Treatment
The first step in respiratory care is a thorough assessment. This assessment will typically include an evaluation of your medical history and diagnosis, a patient interview and a physical examination, including evaluation/testing of your lung function, oxygen saturation levels and exercise tolerance, among other factors relevant to respiratory health. The purpose of these assessments is to gather the information needed for the creation of a personalized treatment plan for you.
The goals of that treatment plan will vary according to your individual needs. However, in general, you can expect these goals to be centered around learning to manage your health condition as efficiently and effectively as possible and improve or maintain functional ability levels, independence and quality of life.
In most cases, your treatment plan will include some or all of the following elements:
Detailed education about your disease/condition
Education and assistance with using and managing medications
Physical therapy/exercise training
Activities/personal care management
Benefits you can expect from a solid treatment plan include better control of your symptoms, improved energy and function to perform daily activities and increased exercise tolerance.
Treatment can also help you maximize lung function, manage secretions and congestion, and address the anxiety and depression that commonly comes with being diagnosed with pulmonary disease.
It can provide you with the support you need to make difficult lifestyle changes to improve your health, such as quitting smoking, improving your diet and/or losing weight.
All-in-all, respiratory care is designed to be a comprehensive, well-rounded approach to helping patients who are living with pulmonary disease to maximize their level of health, function and well-being – and therefore their overall quality of life.