Respiratory therapists —also known as respiratory care practitioners—evaluate, treat, and care for patients with breathing or other cardiopulmonary disorders.
Respiratory therapists evaluate and treat all types of patients, ranging from premature infants whose lungs are not fully developed to elderly people whose lungs are diseased. Respiratory therapists provide temporary relief to patients with chronic asthma or emphysema, as well as emergency care to patients who are victims of a heart attack, stroke, drowning, or shock.
Respiratory therapists test patients’ breathing capacity and determine the concentration of oxygen and other gases in patients’ blood. They also measure patients’ pH, which indicates the acidity or alkalinity of the blood. To evaluate a patient’s lung capacity, respiratory therapists have the patient breathe into an instrument that measures the volume and fl ow of oxygen during inhalation and exhalation. By comparing the reading with the norm for the patient’s age, height, weight, and sex, respiratory therapists can provide information that helps determine whether the patient has any lung deficiencies.
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