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Career Tips & Advice

How RTs Treat Asthma

Concorde Staff

Concorde Staff

Updated April 3, 2017. The information contained in this blog is current and accurate as of this date.
respiratory therapist

Allergy season is upon us. Pollen, ragweed and other allergens are going to be causing allergy sufferers to sniffle and wheeze before we know it. It also can exacerbate a more serious condition - asthma.

Did you know that the Respiratory Therapist (RT), which many of our Concorde students are training to become, plays a key role in the treatment of asthma? According to Sylton Hurdle, BSRT, RRT, Director of Concorde's Respiratory Therapy Program in Garden Grove, CA, the respiratory therapist can do everything from the simple administration of small volume nebulizer treatments to patients ranging from infants to adults to advanced assessment and treatment of the patient in "status asthmaticus" in the emergency room.


Diagnosis of asthma can be challenging


Hurdle said the diagnosis of asthma can often be challenging. He points to a 2016 paper written by Des Jardins and Burton and published in the Clinical Manifestations and Assessment of Respiratory Disease, 7th Edition, that states that the diagnosis of asthma in early childhood is based primarily on the assessment of the child's symptoms and physical findings... and good clinical judgment. A complete history and physical examination - along with lung function testing before and after bronchodilator medication administration showing at least a 12 percent improvement - will in most cases confirm the diagnosis of asthma in the older child and adult.


Treatments a Respiratory Therapist can administer


Hurdle said treatment or management of asthma can include the following:

  • Daily long-term control medication, specifically anti-inflammatory therapy (commonly referred to as steroid medication therapy)
  • A step-wise approach to medication administration is recommended to gain and maintain control of asthma
  • Develop patient/doctor partnership. The goal of this partnership is guided self-management so the patient has the ability to manage the disease his or herself
  • Identify and reduce exposure to risk factors. This often will involve testing to determine what is triggering the asthmatic reaction
  • Thorough patient, family and/or caregiver education. This often is the most challenging as patients start to feel better and think, "I don't need the medications anymore" when this is not accepted practice. This disease must be managed with a medication regimen to be effective. According to a paper by R.D. Kacmarek and published in 2005 in The Essentials of Respiratory Care, dosages may be reduced dependent on the type and amounts of symptoms.



The Respiratory Therapist can be very effective in treatment


Hurdle said that, with proper assessment and education of the patient, RTs are very effective in the diagnosis and treatment of asthma.

"Many are becoming Certified Asthma Educators working in hospitals, physicians' offices and wellness centers," Hurdle said. "RT specialists are valuable and desired, and with incidences of this disease on the rise, we will always have a place in this community."

All of which means the time is right to pursue that respiratory therapist degree at Concorde!


Interested In How To Become a Respiratory Therapist?

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Next Steps?

Interested in learning more about our Respiratory Therapy program? We have a Concorde representative ready to talk about what matters most to you. Get answers about start dates, curriculum, financial aid, scholarships and more!

  1. Program length may be subject to change dependent on transfer credits and course load. Please refer to current course catalog for more information. Concorde does not guarantee admittance, graduation, subsequent employment or salary amount.

  2. Professional certification is not a requirement for graduation, may not be a requirement for employment nor does it guarantee employment.

  3. Financial aid is available to those who qualify but may not be available for all programs. Concorde does not guarantee financial aid or scholarship awards or amounts.

  4. Clinical hour requirements and delivery may vary by campus location and may be subject to change. Concorde does not guarantee clinical site assignments based upon student preference or geographic convenience; nor do clinical experiences guarantee graduation, post-clinical employment or salary outcomes.

  5. Registration and certification requirements for taking and passing these examinations are not controlled by Concorde, but by outside agencies, and are subject to change by the agency without notice. Therefore, Concorde cannot guarantee that graduates will be eligible to take these exams, at all or at any specific time, regardless of their eligibility status upon enrollment.