What is a ventilator?

Ventilators can be life-saving. And after seeing those people who survived severe cases of coronavirus, they wouldn’t have made it without such equipment.

What is a ventilator?

  • 2020-12-18 09:21:34
  • Selcuk Ince

We see that coronavirus puts a strain on the global healthcare institutions and mechanical ventilators are life-saving equipment that can help us a lot.

A ventilator can be defined as a piece of medical equipment used for helping patients who cannot breathe themselves by pumping air into their lungs employing a tube. Since the coronavirus affects the respiratory system, the number of patients requiring breathing assistance has increased a lot.

There are different ventilators, and each one ensures a different level of support. The type being used depends on the condition of the patient.

Who needs a ventilator?

Ventilators are bedside machines that assist two functions: providing enough oxygen into the bloodstream and removing carbon dioxide. The decision whether to use such equipment for a patient is made when the lungs got infected and thus cannot do the functions by themselves.

Some various injuries or illnesses can cause respiratory failure including stroke, head injury, pneumonia, sepsis, etc. Some people having coronavirus could have difficulty in breathing, however, this is only seen in critically ill people, which accounts for around 5% of all coronavirus cases.

Types of Ventilators

There are different ventilators on the market including face mask ventilators, mechanical ventilators, manual resuscitator bags, and tracheostomy ventilators. 

Face mask ventilators are a noninvasive method for supporting a patient’s breathing. The patient wears a mask that is placed on the nose and mouth during air blows into the airways. People with coronavirus can use a face mask if they cannot breathe properly.

Mechanical ventilators are machines that undertake the whole breathing process. This equipment works via a tube inside the patient’s throat by pumping air inside their lungs and transporting carbon dioxide away. The ventilator unit regulates different parameters such as pressure, temperature, and humidity of the air. This way the healthcare personnel can control the person’s breathing and oxygen level

Manual resuscitator bags are used by people to control the airflow of the ventilator with their own hands. This equipment has an empty bag for pumping air into the lung.

Tracheostomy ventilators are used for people who have undergone a tracheostomy. A tracheostomy is a medical procedure where the healthcare personnel creates an opening in the windpipe and puts a tube, and in this way allows air to flow in and out. This way a person can breathe without using a mouth or nose.

Risks of being on the ventilator

First of all, it is not natural to get a positive pressure forcing into your lungs. Infection is also another potential risk for ventilators. The breathing tube can allow bacteria to enter the lungs which can cause pneumonia. A ventilator can also damage the lungs due to too much pressure or excessive oxygen levels. Delirium is another concern and can be called a post-ICU syndrome. These problems can present and linger after a critical illness.

To sum up, ventilators can be life-saving. And after seeing those people who survived severe cases of coronavirus, they wouldn’t have made it without such equipment.