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Respiratory Therapy 

Mark Lung Health Day 2004 

(IRVING, Texas, Oct. 14, 2004)  -  October 27, 2004 is Lung Health Day, and respiratory therapists nationwide want to encourage healthy habits that pay off with lung health for life.Lung Health Day

"The American Association for Respiratory Care (AARC) has developed a patient education website that focuses on breathing," says Janet M. Boehm, MS, RRT, a registered respiratory therapist and the president of the American Association for Respiratory Care. "Their site provides good resources for those with lung disease and for those just looking for more information to breathe better."

In observance of National Respiratory Care Week and Lung Health Day, October 27, 2004, the AARC offers these tips for building good lung health:

Tip #1: Don't Smoke

It seems obvious, but it's worth restating: smoking kills, and it usually starts by killing your lungs. So, if you're a nonsmoker, keep up the good work. If you do smoke, this is the one area of your life where a quitter actually wins. 

Cold turkey quitting works for some but it's not always the most effective way to quit, says Gaylene Mooney, RRT-NPS, a respiratory therapist who heads up the AARC's Subcommittee on Smoking and Tobacco-Related Issues. "Talk to your doctor about the best smoking-cessation program for you," Mooney recommends. 

"A doctor can help by referring you to a smoking- cessation program, recommend prescription drugs that can help you kick the habit or refer you to respiratory therapists or other trained smoking- cessation counselors."

Tip #2: Eat Your Fruits and Vegetables, Drink Water

Fruits and vegetables are high in antioxidants like Vitamins A, C and E, and health professionals agree that it's best to get them from your food rather than from supplements. Staying away from processed foods in general is good for your lungs and your overall health. 

"When you go to the grocery store, shop the perimeter," Helen Sorenson, RRT, a registered respiratory therapist from the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio says. The outer perimeter of the grocery store tends to be where you find the produce, meat and dairy sections and other good things to eat that don't come in a box.

Sorenson adds that water is good for your lung health, too. "The lung tissue is moist and when we exhale, we lose moisture so we have to drink water to replenish it."

Tip #3: Breathe the Cleanest Air Available

Smoggy, polluted air isn't really good for anyone, but those with compromised lung function particularly need to avoid alert-worthy conditions and high allergy days by opting for good indoor air. 

"Many people don't realize this," says Tom Kallstrom, RRT, AE-C, a registered respiratory therapist and a certified asthma educator, "But about 70% of those with asthma suffer from allergy-induced asthma symptoms. Avoid the outdoors during peak traffic hours and exercising or working outside on orange, red, or purple pollution days."

It's also a good idea to avoid breathing secondhand smoke, which can affect those with allergies, asthma and COPD. Secondhand smoke can also cause those who do not have lung disease to develop symptoms and in some cases the same diseases as smokers such as lung cancer and emphysema. Try visiting restaurants that ban smoking and work to keep your home smoke free.

Tip #4: Get Your Flu, Pneumonia Immunization

Influenza outbreaks can wreak havoc on the healthy, and "If you are a respiratory patient, young or old, not getting a flu immunization shot can be bad for your lung health," says Melaine Giordano, MS, RN, CPFT a geriatric consultant in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. She says that adults, children and infants who have lung disease are at a higher risk of being hospitalized from flu side effects. 

She reiterates the Centers for Disease Control Guidelines by encouraging parents to make sure that all children 6-23 months of age, all children with medical problems, such as asthma, diabetes and heart disease or children taking immunosuppressive drugs, steroids or aspirin therapy are vaccinated. 

Adults over 65 and people living in nursing or long-term care facilities as well as any adult who has chronic heart or lung conditions should be protected with an immunization.

We provide this information in spite of the fact that there's been a lot of publicity about the shortage of flu vaccine this year. "People with chronic lung conditions are definitely an at-risk group and they should talk with their physician about getting the vaccine," Giordano adds.

"The pneumonia vaccine is also important for people 65 and older, those who have problems with their lungs, heart, liver, or kidneys, and anyone with health problems such as diabetes, sickle cell disease, alcoholism or HIV/AIDS," Giordano adds. She recommends talking with your primary care physician if you have any questions.

Tip #5: Move It or Lose It

"Endurance exercise, walking, bicycling, gardening, and other sustained activity is very beneficial, in fact it is one of the best things you can do to keep your lungs healthy," Sorenson adds, "other than not smoking."

Respiratory Therapists (RTs) are licensed health care professionals specially educated in respiratory health care. RTs assist physicians by providing diagnostic, treatment and management services to persons with respiratory diseases. RTs provide these services in hospitals, outpatient centers, physicians' offices, skilled nursing facilities and patients' homes.

The American Association for Respiratory Care (AARC) is a not-for-profit, professional organization, consisting of 35,000 respiratory therapists, physicians, and other health care professionals. AARC is dedicated to assisting persons with respiratory diseases receive safe and effective respiratory care. The AARC also publishes Respiratory Care, a peer-reviewed scientific journal listed in Index Medicus.

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