Key points

  • Bronchodilators relax airway smooth muscle and are widely used in adults and children. The most frequently used are β-sympathomimetic agonists.
  • Oral or intravenous steroids are the main treatment of acute asthma and also hasten recovery in acute COPD exacerbations. However, side-effects are seen with long-term treatment.
  • Antibiotic treatment should be tailored to the specific infecting organism(s). This is particularly important in tuberculosis due to the increasing frequency of drug-resistant strains.
  • The main methods of mechanical ventilatory support are: intermittent positive pressure ventilation, noninvasive ventilation and continuous positive airway pressure.
  • Surgery is the treatment of choice for nonsmall cell lung cancer; surgical treatment is also used for selected patients with nonmalignant disease, including removal of benign tumours, lung volume reduction and pleural disease.

See the entire Principles of respiratory therapy Chapter