Is Being On a Ventilator the Same as Life Support?

The human body is an ensemble of a wide number of systems, networks, and different organs. Proper health of the human body depends on the proper working and the coordination of these networks and organs. Any problem in these systems and organs can lead to a malfunctioning of the body as a whole. Although it is said that some organs like the heart, brain, lungs, and kidney are crucial, it is quite pertinent to mention that each and every single organ of the body is of profound importance and any disruption or problem in any one of them can lead to life-threatening situations.

Is Being On a Ventilator the Same as Life Support?

A condition where the body is no longer able to function on its own due to a problem or complicacy in one or more organs of the body is a situation when the human body is put on the life support system.

Ventilator – A Form of Life Support System

Life support machines and systems can be of various types. These machines are support systems that help to keep the human body working even when one or more organs fail to function. In other words, these life support systems act as a substitute for one of the failed organs of the human body. A ventilator is one form of life support machines. It is one of the most common forms of life support structures that help in the circulation of oxygen in the lungs of the human body.

  • Respiratory Failure – Typically when it is said that a patient is put on a life support system in most of the situations doctors indicate at the use of a ventilator which helps the patient to breathe in an artificial manner. It is also called a respirator that pushes oxygen into the lungs and helps maintain the flow of oxygen throughout the body. Situations like pneumonia and other lungs diseases like cystic fibrosis, COPD and cases of near drowning can lead to the requirement of a ventilator for the patient.
  • Heart Diseases – However, other situations can also occur such as cardiac problems that can also give rise to the requirement of life support systems. On events of a cardiac arrest, doctors might require to employ methods like CPR which as a process helps in the circulation of oxygen and blood in the body. On certain occasions, doctors might even have to use the process of defibrillation or application of electric shocks, which can help the heart to resume its prior rhythm of beating.
  • Kidney – In situations that includes improper working of the kidney the process of dialysis is used to filter the toxins out of the blood of the patient. This is yet again a life support technique that artificially does a prime functioning of the human body.
  • Feeding – One of the most common forms of life support mechanism that is used in the case of a large number of patients is the application of the feeding tube to the IV that is used for the administration of food, water, and general nutrition into the body.

When generally spoken about, people often feel that a life support machine is but the ventilator that is applied to patients with a perennially failing health organ. However, it is not the only life support structure or machine that is applied in the context of the medical treatment, as opposed to what many may think there are other forms of life support machines that are used for patients with different criticalities.

Application and Withdrawal of Life Support System

There exists a general ambiguity regarding the conditions when life support systems are applied for patients and conditions in which they are withdrawn by doctors.

  • Failure Of Important Organs – If doctors see that there is a failure of one of the vital organs of the body that leads to the collapse of the overall functioning of the body, they apply the life support machine, and whichever might be required for the situation including ventilation system.
  • Chances Of Recovery – This is one of the most important aspects that are often taken into consideration at the time of applying and even continuing the application of the life support machines. Here it is important to mention that life support machines are quite expensive. Often patients who need to be given these life support machines cannot recover very fast and they do require some time. Many of them do recover once the machine is withdrawn from their system. Yet again there are many patients who are unable to recover. Now applying this system for a long duration also becomes quite expensive. Now if this expense is incurred without the slightest possibility of the patient to recover, then this is a call that the doctors place in front of the family members.
  • Denial On the part of The Patient – There are many patients who give a strong will of not applying the life support machines for their cases. In such a situation the doctors do not apply life support systems for them. Such calls and decisions can also be taken by the close relatives and the decision taking authorities on behalf of the patient.

There is a lot of vagueness and even uncertainty regarding the use of life support systems and machines for patients. A thorough investigation into the domain, however, can help reveal a lot of facts.

Is Being On a Ventilator the Same as Life Support?

To answer the opening question of the topic, yes being on a ventilator is as good as being on a life support system or machine. A ventilator is one of the most common life support structures that are used across the world. However, it is not the only life support machine that is put to use in the domain of medical treatment. It is a system that is applied for the proper working of the human lungs and artificially helps the respiratory system to operate in a proper manner for the entire body.

Also Read:

Sheetal DeCaria, M.D.
Sheetal DeCaria, M.D.
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Sheetal DeCaria, M.D. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:November 11, 2022

Recent Posts

Related Posts