A ventilator is a life support treatment that helps the lungs function when they cannot work on their own. The machine is intended for short-term use, although some individuals require them long-term or permanently. This amazing technology allows medical teams to perform surgeries and prolong life for individuals recovering from serious illness and injury. However, the use of ventilators carries risks, and the devices do not always help.
Ventilators manage the flow of air and oxygen to a patient and regulate inhalation and exhalation. When a person's lungs can no longer process enough oxygen on their own, a medical professional sedates the patient and administers a paralytic to stop their breathing. The healthcare worker intubates the patient by inserting a long plastic tube through the trachea and vocal cords. This lets the ventilator deliver small puffs of medical air — 21% oxygen and 70% nitrogen — to the lungs. The machine exerts pressure to facilitate inhalation: air passes through a humidifier and into the lungs before it is released through a separate tube. Exhalation is passive as the lungs naturally spring back to expel the air
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