Take a deep breath. Pay attention to the air filling your lungs. Imagine the oxygen entering your blood stream, your heart pumping it all the way down to your finger tips and toes. It's an amazing thing, breathing, but we do it all day long unthinkingly, so it's easy to take for granted -- that is, until you stop.

According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, roughly 60 million Americans (about 1 in 5) suffer from asthma or allergies. Because of asthma, every day in the U.S.:

  • 36,000 kids miss school
  • 27,000 adults miss work
  • 4,700 people visit the emergency room
  • 1,200 people are admitted to the hospital
  • Nine people die

Asthma and allergies are by far the most common respiratory diseases, but chronic bronchitis, emphysema, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), cystic fibrosis and many others are making breathing difficult for people worldwide.

Respiratory therapist blogs to the rescue

These blogs, written by top-notch respiratory therapists, offer a peek into the world of respiratory therapy (RT).

  • American Lung Association. The American Lung Association's site hosts a regularly updated Top Stories section, where you can find breaking news in the world of breathing. New studies, announcements about conferences, efforts in the battle for cleaner air, and all manner of other lung-related articles, posts and links can be found here.
  • Breathinstephen.com. Stephen Gaudet practiced as a respiratory therapist for 28 years before his own severe asthma drove him to an early retirement at age 49. Since then he's dedicated himself to practicing what he preached: exercise, exercise, exercise. His blog is full of personal stories, personal struggles and great advice.
  • Gerry Moore RRT. Gerry Moore is a Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT) and CEO of Alliance Oxygen, a respiratory homecare company serving Vancouver Island. Check out his blog for news and updates in the respiratory therapy field as well as his own quest to improve his education and help other breathe easily.
  • Respiratory Blog. Lori-Ann Ligon RRT and Randy Townsend Registered Polysomnographic Technologist (RPSGT) contribute to this blog about working in the RT trenches. Ligon has been practicing for more than 30 years and her "Respiratory Rants” are dripping with experience. Check out this blog for a peak into the real world of RT. Townsend writes about respiratory issues related to sleep problems.
  • Respiratory Care K.I.S.S. Posting with more than 30 years experience in the field, Bob, who is a RRT with a specialization in neonatal-pediatric therapy aims to keep respiratory care (and his blog) short and simple. Flow charts, graphs and easy-to-read bulleted lists allow readers to gain information quickly, making this a great blog to follow for those without an excess of time on their hands.
  • Peon of Respiratory Therapy. Written by a graduate of respiratory therapy program, this blog takes readers from the life of an RT student all the way through -- and past -- graduation. Summaries of real-life stories from the office, news and witty breakdowns of issues in the workplace all make this blog worth reading for anyone looking for real insight into the field.
  • Respiratory Therapy Cave. Respiratory therapist and asthmatic Rick Frea writes this blog, which combines humor, RT news and tips for practitioners into a highly readable and informative resource for health care professionals, patients and their loved ones.
  • Respiratory Therapy Driven. Douglas Kohn received his RT training from the military and has been working in the field since 1996. His experience includes trauma wards, a neonatal team and a small town practice -- all of which come into play is his practical, experience-based blog posts about new technology and findings in RT.
  • sometimes i breathe. This blog is written by a pediatric respiratory therapist who identifies himself only as Steven. Follow him through his day-to-day with amusing comics, anecdotes and posts about the various drills his hospital puts him and his colleagues through. If you want a funny look at what it's like to really work in RT, look no further -- you might learn something, too.
  • Surviving RT School. Calling himself "Trauma Junkie", the author of this blog worked as a certified nursing assistant (CNA) for seven years before going to RT school. The title of the blog is not a misnomer; readers get a hefty helping of what it's like to earn an RT degree, including having doubts, making interesting friends and collecting bunches of resources.

Take a quick scroll through now and again to stay up to date -- and if your interest is piqued, check out your options for online respiratory therapy degrees. You can help the world breathe easier -- and make money doing it. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, respiratory therapists made a median salary of $54,280 in 2010 (over $26/hour), and the field is growing to the tune of 31,200 jobs added between 2010 and 2020. Take a deep breath. Consider your options. And get started today.