In the fall of 2017, the American Lung Association embarked on a large project to develop resources for people facing pulmonary fibrosis. Pulmonary fibrosis (PF) is a disease that causes scarring in the lungs. Most of the time, it isn’t clear what has caused a person’s PF. Over time, it becomes more difficult for PF patients to breathe and many patients need supplemental oxygen. Supplemental oxygen, or oxygen therapy, is prescribed to patients who need extra oxygen for daily living. Some patients just need it during sleep or exercise while others benefit from using it during most or all of their activities. And pulmonary fibrosis patients are not the only ones who can benefit from oxygen therapy. Patients with COPD, cystic fibrosis and pneumonia may all be prescribed oxygen therapy.
Oxygen therapy can be incredibly helpful for people facing lung disease. Using oxygen can help patients stay active and enjoy many of the same activities they used to before they were diagnosed with lung disease. But getting started with the different devices can be daunting and that’s why we set out to create five new videos [see below] that cover the basics of using oxygen therapy and how to use liquid oxygen, metal tanks, and home and portable oxygen concentrators. We had a stellar team on our video shoot, including respiratory therapist, Patti Solano, B.S., RRT, AE-C, manager of Respiratory Therapy and Neuro-Sleep Services at La Porte and Starke Hospitals. We sat down with Patti to find out a little bit more about her work and what she thinks about oxygen therapy and lung disease.
American Lung Association: What are some of the biggest barriers people face with oxygen therapy? Patti Solano: The stigma that people feel from going out in public with oxygen on. I hate to think that people feel this way. I like to look at it in this way – that oxygen is helping them to improve their quality of life and letting them do things that they love doing.
ALA: How do you think these videos will help people? PS: I think these videos will give patients and their caregivers the information needed to make sure that they or their loved ones are using their oxygen correctly. They will also provide them with the educational knowledge to ask the right questions to their healthcare providers.
ALA: Do people with different lung diseases have different oxygen needs? PS: Yes, not every person has the same oxygen needs. Some need more than others depending on their disease process and status. This is why it is so important to have an initial oxygen evaluation and follow up with your physician to make sure that you don't need an increase or possibly a decrease in the amount prescribed.
ALA: What do people with PF need to know about oxygen therapy? PS: Oxygen therapy is a drug. The patient’s oxygen demands increase over time, especially in patients that have pulmonary fibrosis, as the disease could progress quickly. It's important for patients with pulmonary fibrosis to partner in their care with a physician that is knowledgeable in this disease and its treatment processes. This partnership will help add continuity of care for the patients and their families should the need arise for more frequent oxygen evaluations.
ALA: What is your favorite part of being a respiratory therapist? PS: Helping people is my favorite part. I take pride in my profession and I get satisfaction in knowing that I helped a patient breathe better or helped educate their family to be better able to care for them.
Click on the playlist button at the top to see all five of our new videos.