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Your Guide to Ventilator Care

The idea of you or a loved one being under ventilation may feel scary, but it can potentially save a life. Being under ventilation for a temporary period of time can help you or a loved one recover from a significant medical complication. Nevertheless, it’s understandable to feel nervous about the process. Here’s what you need to know about ventilators and the care that comes with them. 

What is a Ventilator?

A medical ventilator essentially acts as a mechanical pair of lungs that help you breathe for a temporary period of time. They are typically reserved for serious situations in which the lungs have stopped working, and the patient can’t breathe on their own. Thus, they are mostly used in hospital settings under the supervision of a respiratory therapist or doctor. Ventilators can be used as a fitted mask or a breathing tube inserted down the throat during more serious cases of breathing failure.

When is a Ventilator Needed?

Ventilators aren’t used unless a patient has experienced respiratory failure. Being unable to breathe properly can be a very life-threatening emergency, as all other major vital organs won’t be able to function without oxygen. Thankfully, ventilators can provide enough oxygen to support the body’s vital organs. Some medical conditions that may require ventilation include but are not limited to:

Asthma
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
Brain injury
Cardiac arrest
Pneumonia
Stroke
Collapsed lung
Coma
Drug overdose
Lung infection
How Does it Work?

Ventilators use pressure to blow oxygenated air into the lungs and dispel carbon dioxide from the body. This is done one of two ways: by face mask or a breathing tube. In less severe cases, non-invasive ventilation by means of a face mask will be used. There are many benefits to this form of ventilation, as it reduces discomfort and decreases the risk of complications. However, if the situation is severe enough, a breathing tube may need to be inserted into the throat. 

What Should You Expect?

If you or a loved one is placed under ventilation, what to expect will depend on the circumstances. For example, being ventilated by means of a face mask will not be as uncomfortable as a breathing tube. You’ll be able to talk, eat, and move around when using a face mask. 

The same will not be the case with a breathing tube. However, a care team will provide pain medication, muscle relaxers, and sedatives to reduce discomfort while using a breathing tube. You’ll also be monitored by medical professionals while under ventilation. They’ll continually analyze vitals such as heart rate, blood pressure, respiratory rate, and oxygen saturation. 

What Does it Feel Like?

Unfortunately, there’s no way of sugarcoating it: being under a breathing tube ventilator will feel uncomfortable. However, a care team will do whatever it takes to make you or your loved one feel as comfortable as possible. This typically includes sedative medication that keeps the patient asleep for long stretches of time, to the point of only being able to open their eyes for moments at a time. 

What are the Risks?

Ventilators are an important and life-saving piece of medical equipment. However, being under breathing tube ventilation for a long stretch of time comes with some risks. Infection is one of the biggest, with pneumonia being a common complication. Some other risks include damage to the vocal cords along with general irritation of the throat and lungs. Some other risks include but are not limited to blood clots, pulmonary edema, and sedation-related delirium. 

What Does Ventilator Care Involve?

Ventilator care will include a team of medical professionals such as nurses, doctors, and respiratory therapists. Whoever’s under ventilation will need to be placed in a long-term care facility like a hospital, where they’ll be carefully monitored for lung infections. If the patient needs to be under ventilation for more than a few days, they’ll be fed via IV or stomach tube. Special modes of communication will be needed since the patient won’t be able to speak.

If you or a loved one need to be put under ventilation, our compassionate professionals at Arbors of Ohio are prepared to help you get the best care possible. We understand the challenges that come with being under ventilation and want to help you achieve the best quality of life. Please don’t hesitate to contact us with any further questions or concerns!

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