Respiratory therapists care for patients who have trouble breathing; commonly from chronic respiratory diseases such as asthma or emphysema. When dealing with Asthma a respiratory therapist must be aware of the clinical manifestations of the disease and how these relate to the symptoms you may experience when you suffer an attack. Asthma is comprised of two specific phases.
The first phase is constriction of the smooth muscle that surrounds your bronchial tubes. This will cause you to experience coughing (increasingly worse at night), tightness in your chest, difficulty breathing, and wheezing. The early response usually occurs within 20 minutes of exposure to an allergen. Some common allergens are household dust, mites, animal dander, cockroaches, fungi, molds, and yeast. It is also true that there are causes not related to allergen exposure, such as emotional stress and exercise.
The second phase involves an inflammatory response where the airways become inflamed and produce thick white secretions. The excess mucus may block the airways and lead to further complications.
Patient education is very important in keeping asthma symptoms under control. Education should include identifying possible triggers, understanding medications that can be used to control symptoms, instruction on proper use of medication delivery devices, and monitoring symptoms. If you experience symptoms more than once per week, notice a change in the color, amount, or thickness of mucus expectorated, you should visit with your pulmonologist for follow up care.