A ventilator is a special machine used to mechanically pump air, or designated oxygen, into a patient. If a child has a special condition requiring additional oxygen or a breathing aid, then a ventilator is often used. A ventilator not only carries oxygen into the lungs of the patient, it also transports waste materials (i.e. carbon dioxide) out of the lungs.
There are several ways in which a ventilator may be used, depending on the extent of the breathing difficulty of the patient and the structural integrity of the respiratory system, primarily the trachea. If the individual has problems breathing on their own accord, the ventilator can be set to “breathe for” the patient. Even though the ventilator is primarily used for pushing air into the lungs, it can also be used to initiate an exhale, although this function is not as commonly used.
The NNR nurses ensure that your ventilator is working properly and the settings are correct. They can also show families how to use the ventilator in case of an emergency when the nurse is not around. Oxygen levels can be measured via the ventilator’s monitoring system, ensuring that proper levels are maintained and do not drop too low.
A tracheostomy is most commonly performed when an airway is blocked, a patient cannot breathe on their own, there is fluid in the lungs, or the patient has a severe injury. It is implemented in patients who have health issues that require the aid of a ventilator to help with long term breathing.
In essence, a tracheotomy is performed when an opening is created through the neck and into the trachea to provide access to the lungs. The actual incision that is created is known as a tracheostomy. After the opening is created, a tracheostomy tube is placed into the opening to remove any excess fluid from the lungs.
A tracheostomy tube requires continued care. This is something that your NNR home care nurse will teach surrounding family members. However, most of the tracheostomy care, cleaning, and placement can be completed by your home care nurse. Tracheostomy care includes:
- Proper cleaning
- Inspecting the tube and accessories for any defects
- Inspecting the stoma (opening) and surrounding skin for irritation or infection
- Proper placement of the tube