Inhalation Therapies

Inhalation Therapies

 

Definition

Inhalation therapies are a group of respiratory, or breathing, treatments designed to help restore or improve breathing function in patients with a variety of diseases, conditions, or injuries. The treatments range from at-home oxygen therapy for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease to mechanical ventilation for patients with acute respiratory failure. Inhalation therapies usually include the following categories:
  • Oxygen therapy
  • Incentive spirometry
  • Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP)
  • Oxygen chamber therapy
  • Mechanical ventilation
  • Newborn life support.

Purpose

Inhalation therapies are ordered for various stages of diseases which are causing progressive or sudden respiratory failure. Although physicians generally follow guidelines to assign specific therapy according the type and stage of a disease, the ultimate decision is based on a number of tests indicating pulmonary function and the presence or absence of oxygen in body organs and tissues.

Oxygen therapy

Oxygen therapy is most commonly ordered to support patients with emphysema and other chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The oxygen therapy is usually ordered once decreased oxygen saturation in the blood or tissues is demonstrated. Oxygen therapy may also be used in the hospital setting to help return a patient's breathing and oxygen levels to normal.

Incentive spirometry

Spirometry is a diagnostic method for measuring gases and respiratory function. Incentive spirometry may be ordered to help patients practice and improve controlled breathing. It may be ordered after surgery to the abdomen, lungs, neck, or head.

Continuous positive airway pressure (cpap)

Common uses of continuous positive airway pressure include sleep apnea, respiratory distress syndrome in infants, and adult respiratory distress syndrome. Signs of atelectasis (absence of gas from the lungs) or abnormalities of the lower airways may also indicate CPAP.

Oxygen chamber therapy

Oxygen chamber therapy is ordered for various causes that indicate immediate need for oxygen saturation in the blood. Divers with decompression illness, climbers in high altitude, patients suffering from severe carbon dioxide poisoning, and children or adults in acute respiratory distress may require oxygen chamber therapy. In recent years, physicians have also used the forced pressure of oxygen chambers to help heal burns and other wounds, since the pressure under which the oxygen is delivered can reach areas that are blocked off or suffering from poor circulation.

Mechanical ventilation

Mechanical ventilation is ordered for patients in acute respiratory distress, and is often used in an intensive care situation. In some cases, mechanical ventilation is a final attempt to continue the breathing function in a patient and may be considered "life-sustaining."

Newborn life support

Newborn babies, particularly those who were premature, may require inhalation therapies immediately upon birth, since the lungs are among the last organs to fully develop. Some newborns suffer from serious respiratory problems or birth complications, such as respiratory distress syndrome, neonatal wet lung syndrome, apnea of prematurity or persistent fetal circulation, which may require inhalation therapies.

Precautions

There are numerous indications for not prescribing various inhalation therapies.

Oxygen therapy

Patients and family members who smoke should not have oxygen prescribed or should avoid smoking in the area to prevent combustion. Sedatives should be avoided for patients on oxygen therapy.

Incentive spirometry

Patients who are unable or unwilling to properly and consistently practice incentive spirometry as prescribed should not receive this form of treatment.

Continuous positive airway pressure (cpap)

Patients unable or unwilling to comply with the physician's instructions for use of CPAP are not likely to have it prescribed. Extremely obese patients may have less success with this form of therapy for the treatment of sleep apnea.

Oxygen chamber therapy

Complications may arise from this form of treatment and during transport to or from the oxygen chamber. Therefore, some patients may not receive enough benefit to outweigh possible complications. All patients, particularly children, must be carefully monitored.

Mechanical ventilation

Use of mechanical ventilation will be carefully weighed against benefit and possible risks. Some patients will require sedation to prevent fighting of the ventilator, which can increase the risk of complications.

Newborn life support

Not all infants with breathing problems will require measures as severe as mechanical ventilation. The physician will make the determination based on weight and condition of the infant. Newborns with patent ductus arteriosis, a handicap affecting the pulmonary artery, are more likely to suffer pulmonary hemorrhage from mechanical ventilation.

Description

Oxygen therapy

Once a patient shows hypoxemia, or decreased oxygen in arterial blood, supplemental oxygen may be ordered. The main purpose of the oxygen is to prevent damage to vital organs resulting from inadequate oxygen supply. The lowest possible saturation will be given to keep the patient's measurements at a minimum acceptable level. The oxygen is administered through a mask or nasal tube, or sometimes directly into the trachea. The amount of oxygen prescribed is measured in liters of flow per minute. Patients with chronic hypoxemia, most likely in late stages of COPD, will often receive long-term oxygen therapy.
Most patients will receive their long-term oxygen therapy through home oxygen use. A physician must prescribe home oxygen and levels will be monitored to ensure that the correct amount of oxygen is administered. Some patients will receive oxygen therapy only at night or when exercising.
The choice of type of home oxygen systems will vary depending on availability, cost considerations, and the mobility of the patient. Those patients who are ambulatory, especially those who work, will need a system with a small portable tank. Depending on the system chosen, frequent deliveries of oxygen and filling of portable tanks will be necessary.
In the case of respiratory distress in newborns or adults, oxygen therapy may be attempted before mechanical ventilation since it is a noninvasive and less expensive choice. Oxygen has been found effective in treating patients with other diseases such as cystic fibrosis, chronic congestive heart failure, or other lung diseases.

Incentive spirometry

Incentive spirometry is also referred to as sustained maximal inspiration. It is designed to mimic natural sighs and yawns. A device provides positive feedback when a patient inhales at a predetermined rate and sustains the breath for a specific period of time. This helps teach the patient to take long, slow, and deep breaths. A spirometer, or equipment that measures pulmonary function, is provided to the patient and a respiratory therapist will work with the patient to demonstrate and explain the technique. Once patients show mastery of the technique, they are instructed to practice the exercises frequently on their own.

Continuous positive airway pressure (cpap)

Patients with sleep apnea will receive continuous positive airway pressure to prevent upper airway collapse. It is usually administered through a tight-fitting mask as humidified oxygen. The pressure of flow is constant during both exhaling and inhaling and the level of pressure is determined based on each individual. Most patients undergoing CPAP in a hospital setting will receive continuous monitoring of some vital signs and periodic sampling of blood gas values.

Oxygen chamber therapy

Also known as hyperbaric oxygen chamber or hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBO), this treatment delivers pure oxygen under pressure equal to that of 2-3 times normal atmospheric pressure. For years, this treatment has been especially effective on scuba divers who suffer from the "bends," or decompression illness. The patient enters the chamber, a plastic cylinder-shaped structure that is normally transparent. In most cases, just one patient will enter by being rolled into the chamber on a type of stretcher. Once inside, the oxygen will be delivered under forced pressure and the patient is free to read, nap, or listen to the radio. The therapy usually lasts one hour, although it can take up to five hours in serious decompression cases. Before exiting the chamber, the pressure will eventually be lowered to normal atmospheric level.

Mechanical ventilation

In general, mechanical ventilation replaces or supports the normal ventilatory lung function of a patient. Although normally delivered in a hospital, often to treat serious illness, mechanical ventilation may be performed at home under the order and supervision of a physician and home health agency. The patient will usually be intubated and the ventilator machine "takes over" the breathing function.
There are several modes and methods of mechanical ventilation, each offering different advantages and disadvantages. In assist/control ventilation, the oldest mode of ventilation, the physician predetermines settings and the ventilator delivers a breath each time the patient makes an effort to inhale. In synchronized intermittent mandatory ventilation, the machine senses a patient's effort to inhale and delivers the preset amount. The amount cannot be increased by the patient's effort. Pressure-control ventilation involves the physician's selection of a peak pressure and this method is most useful for patients suffering from obstructive airways disease. In cases of severe hypoventilation, an endotracheal tube must be inserted. If a patient will be on mechanical ventilation for more than two weeks, a tracheostomy, or surgical incision, will be performed for placement of the breathing tubes.
There are other modes of ventilation that may be used, including high-frequency ventilation, a newer technique that delivers 100 to 200 breaths per minute to the patient. The breaths are delivered through a humidified, high-pressure gas jet. High-frequency ventilation may be ordered when a patient does not respond to conventional mechanical ventilation or for certain conditions and circumstances.

Newborn life support

Premature infants, especially those born before the 28th week of gestation, have underdeveloped breathing muscles and immature structures within the lungs. These infants will require breathing support, often in the form of mechanical ventilation. The support delivers warm, humidified, oxygen-enriched gases either by oxygen hood or through mechanical ventilation. In serious cases, the infant may require mechanical ventilation with CPAP or positive-end expiratory pressure (PEEP) through a tightly fitting face mask or even by endotracheal intubation.
Need for continued resuscitation for newborns depends not only on gestational age, but on signs indicating ineffective breathing, including color, heart rate, and respiratory effort. CPAP will be delivered through nasal or endotracheal tubes with a continuous-flow ventilator specifically designed for infants. An alarm system alerts the neonatal staff to problems and monitoring of breathing and other vital functions will accompany the therapy. As respiratory distress syndrome begins to resolve, usually in four or five days, the type of support will be reduced accordingly and the infant may be weaned from the ventilator and moved to only CPAP or an oxygen hood.

Preparation

Preparation for any of these treatments is normally not necessary, and in fact, these therapies may be administered as a result of an emergency situation. Some of the methods, particularly incentive spirometry, or at-home oxygen or ventilation, will require education and cooperation with a home health agency or respiratory therapist. Pretreatment testing of various indicators of respiratory function and oxygen saturation will be performed to determine exact needs of individual patients.

Aftercare

Pulmonary function tests and other tests will be performed to verify that treatments have been successful or to monitor and adjust treatments. Mechanical ventilation will require weaning from the equipment and may also require care for the area surrounding the intubation.

Risks

Inhalation therapies may carry risks, complications or side effects including:

Oxygen therapy

At-home oxygen therapy carries risk if improper care is taken to follow instructions when handling the oxygen. Patients are cautioned not to smoke near the oxygen supply and to keep the supply away from other sources that may cause electrical spark, flames, or intense heat. Patients on home oxygen therapy should avoid use of sedatives.

Incentive spirometry

The major risk associated with incentive spirometry relates to improper use. Patients must be carefully instructed in the technique and monitored periodically for compliance and improvement. Barotrauma, injury to the middle ear or sinuses caused by imbalance between the affected cavity and the outside, or ambient pressure, can result form incentive spirometry. A patient may also suffer discomfort or fatigue.

Continuous positive airway pressure (cpap)

The effectiveness of CPAP may be limited if patients do not cooperate. Possible side effects of CPAP include skin abrasions from the mask, leakage from the tube or mask, nasal congestion, nasal or oral dryness, or discomfort from the pressure of delivery.

Oxygen chamber therapy

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is painless. The only risk would be associated with improper administration of the pressure levels, which should not occur, since respiratory staff and the supervising physician should be thoroughly trained in performance of this therapy. The drawback to hyperbaric oxygen treatment is the limited availability of chambers. Many cities do not have readily available chambers.

Mechanical ventilation

The biggest risk of mechanical ventilation is sometimes considered to be a patient's dependence on the machine and the difficulty of weaning the patient. The physician will carefully select and monitor the mode of ventilation, the machine's settings, and the patient's progress to prevent this complication. A patient may therefore be left on a ventilator after sufficient progress is made to gradually wean breathing dependence.
Intubation and mechanical ventilation are frightening and uncomfortable for many patients and they may fight the ventilator. If this occurs, the physician may order a sedative to ensure cooperation and effectiveness of the therapy. Intubation often results in irritation to the trachea and larynx. Tracheostomy is associated with risk of bleeding, pneumothorax, local infection, and increased incidence of aspiration.

Newborn life support

Infants are continuously monitored to determine even small changes in breathing function. Mechanical ventilation can result in increases in respiratory distress or other complications. It is possible for the ventilator to be accidentally disconnected and staff is trained to watch for signs or alarms indicating disconnection. Mechanical ventilation increases risk of infection in premature babies. Complications of PEEP or CPAP may include pneumothorax or decreased cardiac output.

Normal results

Oxygen therapy

In the case of COPD, oxygen therapy does not treat the disease but can prolong life, quality of life, and onset of more serious symptoms. Effective oxygen therapy for any patient should lead to improved or sustained levels of oxygen in arterial blood.

Incentive spirometry

With proper use of incentive spirometry, the physician should observe improved pulse rate, decreased respiratory rate, improved respiratory muscle performance, and other indicators of improved function. Lung function following lung resection should show marked improvement following incentive spirometry.

Continuous positive airway pressure

Successful CPAP will result in reduction in apnea for those suffering from sleep apnea. A study reported on in 1998 demonstrated that CPAP was effective in the majority of patients with sleep apnea, with the exception of significantly obese patients with blood gas values that were worse during waking hours at rest and at exercise. Hospitalized patients on CPAP therapy should show improvement in blood gas and other pulmonary measurements as expected by the treating physician.

Oxygen chamber therapy

Divers undergoing emergency treatment in a hyperbaric chamber should show immediate improvement in oxygen levels throughout the body, regardless of blood flow restrictions, after one or two treatments. Those patients receiving oxygen chamber therapy for difficult wounds may continue to receive treatments daily for several weeks before satisfactory results are reached. Patients with carbon dioxide poisoning should show improvement in or recovery of neurologic function. Results of hyperbaric chamber therapy depend largely on how quickly the patient was brought to the chamber, as well as the severity of the initial condition.

Mechanical ventilation

Successful mechanical ventilation will result in gradual decrease in dependence on the ventilator and weaning from the machine. Reduction of therapy to another form, such as CPAP or oxygen therapy, indicates that ventilation has worked as expected. In the case of COPD, exacerbation may be successfully treated with mechanical ventilation and the patient may return to home oxygen therapy. Pediatric patients will demonstrate normal growth and development as a normal result of long-term mechanical ventilation at home. Some patients, particularly those in a hospital intensive care unit, will not be able to breathe again without the ventilator and families and physicians will face tough choices about continued life support.

Newborn life support

Neonates will be constantly monitored to measure lung function. Those measurements will help caregivers determine if and when mechanical ventilation can be reduced and CPAP or oxygen mask begun. CPAP is considered successful when the infant's respiratory rate is reduced by 30-40%, a chest radiograph shows improved lung volume and appearance, stabilization of oxygen levels is documented and caregivers observe improvement in the infant's comfort. Evidence that there is no infection from ventilation is also considered normal. In some cases, inhalation therapy, including mechanical ventilation, will not work and the infant's parents and physicians will face tough decisions about invasive procedures with associated high risks or cessation of life support.

Resources

Organizations

American Association for Respiratory Care. 11030 Ables Lane, Dallas, TX 75229. (972) 243-2272, Fax (972) 484-2720.
American Lung Association. 1740 Broadway, New York, NY 10019. (800) 586-4872. http://www.lungusa.org.
National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. P.O. Box 30105, Bethesda, MD 20824-0105. (301) 251-1222. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov.

Other

Hyperbaric Research and Treatment Center Page. http://www.hyperbaricrx.com.

Key terms

Aspiration — Accidental suction of fluids or vomit into the respiratory system.
Cannula — A tube inserted into a cavity to serve as a channel for the transport of fluid.
Endotracheal — Placed within the trachea.
Hypoventilation — Reduced ventilation in the lungs' air sacs resulting in above normal carbon dioxide pressure.
Hypoxemia — A condition in which there is deficient oxygen supply in the blood.
Hypoxia — Low levels of oxygen in blood, tissue, or air.
Intubation — Placement of a tube into a hollow organ (such as the trachea).
Pneumothorax — Presence of gas or air in the hollow space around the lungs.
Trachea — The windpipe, or main by which air passes to and from the lungs.
References in periodicals archive ?
Subject to stockholder approval, the combined company will advance a pipeline of inhalation therapies for the treatment of diseases with unmet medical needs, featuring three product candidates, each in advanced clinical development.
Subject to stockholder approval, the integrated company will advance a range of novel inhalation therapies for the treatment of diseases with significant unmet medical needs, featuring three product candidates, each in advanced clinical development.
What the pulmonary specialist should know about the new inhalation therapies.
We look forward to working with Pulmatrix to help advance its pipeline of proprietary and partnered products utilizing our spray dry technology and infrastructure, and to jointly explore opportunities to collaborate with the broader pharmaceutical industry to develop next-generation inhalation therapies.
The study was funded by Advanced Inhalation Therapies, an Israeli-based company that holds the rights to the NO technology.
4m research programme looking at seaweed compounds in the fight against infection, including clinical trials for new inhalation therapies in lung disease.
Esquinas, who works in intensive care at a hospital in Spain, compiles 40 articles by specialists in pediatrics, critical care, anesthesiology, pulmonology, engineering, and other fields from around the world who cover mechanical ventilation, ventilator modes, new pharmacological treatments during ventilation, infection prevention, technologies in anesthesiology, pulmonary rehabilitation, telemonitoring in pediatric and neonatal critical care, and assistance in chronic respiratory failure, as well as diagnostic methods like polysomnography and ultrasound and cardiopulmonary resuscitation methods and new options in inhalation therapies.
To succeed in the emerging market for inhalation therapies, manufacturers need to understand the design and production challenges unique to this form of drug delivery.
Dr Peter Warn, from the University of Manchester, who carried out the research, said the essential oils could be used to create much more pleasant inhalation therapies - which are likely to have a much higher success than current treatment, which is only effective in around 50% of cases.
Your best bet is to head to a hotel in Montecatini then try the spa Excelsior, where you can do thermal therapies - other than the mineral water cures - and indulge in inhalation therapies, mud- therapies and enjoy the beauty centre.
MDT's focus in pulmonary delivery is on inhalation therapies for respiratory diseases like asthma and COPD, and supportive care for respiratory illnesses, such as pulmonary infections.