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Why are Ventilators important to fight COVID-19?

A ventilator is a breathing machine that helps those patients who can't breathe properly on their own. A ventilator conveys more oxygen into the lungs of patients and takes out carbon dioxide from there. Around 5% of COVID-19 patients need a ventilator to breathe properly.
Mar 31, 2020 12:32 IST
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A patient on the Ventilator
A patient on the Ventilator

The president of the Indian Society of Critical Care; Dr. Dhruva Chaudhry says that India has an estimated 40,000 working ventilators. This number seems inadequate to fight the COVID-19 because Chinese data shows that around 15% of Covid-19 patients get sick enough to need hospitalisation and 5% require ventilator support in ICU.

So if we abide by this calculation, India has a population of 1.36 billion. Now you can imagine the situation in India if the situation worsens in the country in the coming days.

What is Ventilator?

A ventilator is a machine that helps those patients who cannot breathe properly on their own due to any reason. It is also known as other names such as - Breathing machine or respirator or mechanical ventilator etc.

The ventilator does two important functions: conveys more oxygen into the lungs and take carbon dioxide out from there. 

Worth mentioning that the average price of a ventilator is ₹8-10 lakh.

ventilator-pic

What does Ventilator work?

The COVID-19 targets the lungs and kills people from severe acute lung infections such as pneumonia and acute respiratory distress syndrome.

Ventilators are mechanical breathing machines that help patients breathe and prevent the lungs from collapsing.

This machine uses pressure to blow extra oxygen into the lungs for breathing and take back the Carbon Dioxide from the lungs. The pressure is known as positive pressure. The patient usually exhales on their own, but the Ventilator can assist the patients in having easy berating. 

A ventilator can be set to breathe at the specific rate and oxygen requirement can be adjusted to meet the requirement of each patient. 

When is Ventilator is used?

It is used for people with severe respiratory infections, like COVID-19, seasonal influenza, and pneumonia. When there is damage to nerve and muscles involved in breathing from a disease such as strokes, and upper spinal-cord injuries and damage caused by a disease like Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), the ventilator helps the patient in breathing.

What kind of risk involved in Ventilator?

1. Too much pressure can damage the lungs as can oxygen toxicity if the levels are too high.

2. Bacteria may enter into the lungs during intubation and cause Ventilator-associated pneumonia.

3. There is a chance of air leaking out of lungs into the space between the lungs and chest wall which may cause pain and lungs to collapse.

So the above explanation concludes that the use of a Ventilator is very crucial to fight with COVID-19. Hence the concerned ministry of the government of India should do the needful to have sufficient numbers of Ventilators in the country so that India can tackle any unprecedented situation arising due to COVID-19.

Source: US National Heart, Lungs and Blood Institute, WHO

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