A ventilator is a form of life support system or machine that helps a patient to breathe well even when the patient’s lungs have stopped working completely. Through this ventilation system air is forcefully pushed into the lungs and the flow of oxygen is maintained in the rest of the body of the patient1. This is a form of life support that is the most common amongst the ICU treatment processes used all over the world. Amongst the patients of ICU who requires life support, a ventilator is one of the most common forms of support that is given to patients.

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What to Expect When Your Loved One is on Ventilator?

When your loved one is on ventilation support, often a tube is put in through the windpipe that is secured to the mouth or the nose area through tapes or by other means. The whole set up is a rather cumbersome one and often the patient who receives this life support does not retain their former self and physical status. Below mentioned conditions are common when a patient is put on a ventilator:

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  • Induced Coma When on Ventilator: When a patient is given a life support system of a ventilator often the patient is put into a state of induced coma. This is a situation when through the help of some drugs a person is put to sleep. This is a condition where the patient will be in a state of sleep so that the ventilator can work in a proper manner and the person can breathe in the perfect way. This is a step that is taken since ventilation is a framework that might not let the patient be comfortable if he or she is in their senses. This is why if they are in a state of induced coma or in a state of being asleep then there will be no fretting on the part of the patient, the function of artificial breathing will be done in a perfect manner and the patient’s body will get all the chance to heal completely and hence ensure speedy recovery. However, seeing your loved ones in this state might not be a really good vision for you. In such a situation when everything looks bleak and really depressing remember that some of the best treatment is being given to your loved ones and there is every chance that he or she will recover in no time.
  • Restricted Communication: The framework or the structure of a ventilator is a rather cumbersome one. In such a situation if your loved one has been given such a life support machine then there is every chance that he or she will be in no position to talk to you. As a matter of fact, for such patients, even the family members aren’t allowed to visit them frequently. In such a condition where the patient is unable to talk, try to talk to him in a normal state. Remember that if he or she is in his senses then although they can’t talk to you they can understand all that you say. So please have a positive and cheerful vibe in your interaction with them. They can try to talk to you in signs. Try to understand them. In this task, you can also take the help of the nurses and the other staff of the ICU. This can also help your loved ones to express themselves not just to you but also to the nurses and the rest of the ICU team.
  • Restriction of Eating When Your Loved One Is On Ventilator: If a patient is put up on a ventilator or a life support system there is every chance that he or she will be unable to eat through their mouth. In these cases, an IV or intravenous is given so that food and water can be given to them. However, if a tracheotomy is performed then the person might be able to have food through their mouth. Even if they can eat food and swallow on their own never bring anything to them from outside or from home. These patients need to be on a very carefully monitored diet. This is not always to ensure proper digestion and the rest of their health but for the very basic reason that now they cannot chew and swallow all kinds of food.
  • Restriction of Visit: Such patients are often kept in the ICU which is a restricted area. Visiting these patients can be quite difficult. Again such patients cannot have people staying with them round the clock. This is a condition that is possible once the patient is out in the general bed. Hence expect restrictions in even going near to him or her if your loved ones are on ventilation. However this is a measure that is taken to ensure their safety and nothing more.
  • Complete Faith and Coordination with ICU Team When Your Loved One Is On Ventilator: This is a condition when you will hear a lot of things from people around you. Please take no offense here as people who will be advising you have your best interest in their hearts, but it is always the doctor who knows what is best for the patient. Hence always have faith in your doctor and the ICU team during this time. They are the people who can always give you the best advice and can help the patient the most. Stay in constant touch with them to find out about the progress of your patient.

Conclusion

If your loved one is in the ICU under a ventilator keep a close eye on the process of weaning or coming off the life support system. This is one of the most important indications that will point out the improving health of the patient. The process of weaning will be a continuous and gradual one and might not occur overnight.

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Sheetal DeCaria MD

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

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Last Modified On: August 2, 2019

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

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