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A respiratory therapist must operate various machines and equipment to offer therapy to a patient with a respiratory problem or infection. Knowledge of the various respiratory equipment and how to use the equipment is the main focus of a respiratory therapist's secondary education.
Although there are numerous different equipments for use by a respiratory therapist and for oxygen therapies, they should all be used with caution and should be recommended by a doctor before treatment is started. Oxygen and respiratory equipment includes several items in addition to numerous other oxygen-related equipment.
Oxygen Cylinders and Oxygen Concentrators
Attached to the tubes, cannulas, and masks, oxygen cylinders supply additional oxygen to patients who are still capable of spontaneous, natural breathing. Oxygen cylinders deliver 100% pure oxygen to the nasal cavities and the patient breathes in on their own to provide more oxygen to their lungs and create more oxygen in the blood. Oxygen concentrators act in a similar way but use the air from the atmosphere that we naturally breathe in, which is only 60 percent oxygen, The oxygen concentrators then concentrate our natural oxygen supply until it is 80 percent oxygen and then deliver the 80 percent oxygen through tubes to the mask covering the mouth and nose.
Another device used often by respiratory therapists is the nebulizer. The nebulizer is a device that functions to transfer liquid medications into a fine mist that can be breathed into the lungs through a mouthpiece or nosepiece. A nebulizer is used to administer medications that must be delivered directly to the lungs and airways; these medications do not work effectively if administered through other means.
A suction machine is a nozzle attached to a tube, attached to a machine used to suction liquids from the lungs and airway. If excess fluid builds in a patient's lungs, it becomes difficult to breathe and the liquid will need to be suctioned out to make breathing easier. In cases of accidents, the lungs may become injured and blood may fill the lung cavity and need to be removed. The suction machine was designed to remove any type of liquid or small growths in a patient's lungs that may be causing difficulty breathing.
CPAP and BIPAP Machines
Both types of machines administer the positive airway pressure (PAP) method of oxygen and respiratory ventilation used to treat patients suffering from sleep apnea. PAP ventilation methods are also used for patients with respiratory failure and infants with respiratory problems. The method of continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is administered by the CPAP machine and used to supply a constant stream of air to prevent airways from closing during sleep. The bilevel positive airway pressure (BIPAP) method is used to mimic natural breathing by providing two levels of respiratory pressure: inspiratory and expiratory, or breathing in and breathing out.
When using any device to aid respiration, an oxygen monitor also should be used. The oxygen monitor reads the amount of oxygen being administered. Too much oxygen can cause the lungs to stop working spontaneously because the lungs will realize that they do not need to work to acquire the needed amounts of oxygen, and therefore the natural reflex of the lungs to breathe will cease.