This information will help you understand what a ventilator is and how it helps your loved one.\nIf you have any questions or concerns, be sure to ask your loved one’s UPMC doctor, nurse, or respiratory therapist.\nWhat is a Ventilator?\nA ventilator is a machine that helps a patient breathe.\u00a0It allows the body to rest so your loved one can heal.\nPatients who need a ventilator often have a medical problem that makes it hard for them to breathe well on their own. Often, patients on a ventilator receive medicine that puts them to sleep so the ventilator does the work of breathing.\nLimited Communication While on a Ventilator\nYour loved one may feel frustrated or anxious because he or she can’t talk while on the ventilator. However, there are some ways to help promote communication, so speak with the nurse about what might work best.\nEating and Activity While on a Ventilator\nYour loved one will receive food and nourishment through an IV (intravenous) or feeding tube while on the ventilator. Some patients with tracheostomy tubes are able to eat by mouth.\nIf your loved one is strong enough, he or she may sit up in a chair while on the ventilator.\nHow You Can Help Your Loved One\nThere are many ways you can comfort your loved one.\n\nTry talking to him or her as you normally would.\nLet your loved one know you’re near by touching or holding his or her hand.\nYou may be able to bring items from home, like a pillow or robe. Please check with the nurse first\nYour loved one might need special instructions for visitors, such as visiting times or time limits to the visit. These rules are\u00a0in place to allow the staff to give your loved one the care he or she needs.\n\nHospital Alarms, Alerts, and Warnings\nThere are many devices that alert the UPMC care team of any problems or changes, even when not at your loved one’s bedside.\nThe small screen (monitor) above the patient’s bed tracks\u00a0heart rhythm and blood pressure.\nBoth the monitor and the ventilator have alarms.\nThe alarms alert a staff member of a change in the patient’s condition, and each sound refers to a different condition.\nOften when an alarm sounds, there’s no great cause for concern.\nThe problem may correct itself. Staff will check this from the nurses’ station.\nOther times, a care team member may come to check the alarm.\nComing Off the Ventilator\nThe ventilator brings oxygen into the lungs and helps get rid of carbon dioxide from your loved one’s body.\nSome people become dependent on a ventilator because of their medical problems. This may make it difficult to get the patient off the ventilator.\nWhen your loved one’s medical problems have improved \u2014 and he or she is well enough \u2014 “weaning” will begin.\nWeaning, also known as a “weaning trial” or “CPAP trial,” is the process of getting the patient off the ventilator.\nIf these trials go well, we may remove your loved one from the ventilator. At this point, we may also remove the breathing tube from his or her throat (a process called extubation). Patients with tracheostomies will most likely need more time before the tracheotomy tube can be removed.\nYour Loved One’s Care Team\nThe care team at UPMC is a group of professional and support staff who provide personal care to your loved one.\nMedical team members include:\n\nDoctors, including lung or pulmonary specialists.\nRegistered nurses.\nRespiratory (breathing) therapists.\n\nSupport staff team members include:\n\nSocial workers.\nNursing assistants.\nDietitians.\nPhysical and occupational therapists.\n\nIf you have any questions about your loved one’s care, or hear something that you don’t understand, please ask one of these care team members.\nWe’re happy to answer your questions and ease any concerns.\nTerms You Might Hear When Your Loved One is on a Ventilator\nFollowing are some terms you may hear from the care team:\n\nAlveoli (al-VEE-o-lie) \u2014 Tiny sac-like air spaces in the lungs. This is where the exchange of carbon dioxide and oxygen takes place.\nArterial Blood Gas (ABG) \u2014 A sample of blood taken from an artery (usually in the wrist) to measure the oxygen and carbon dioxide levels. This is different from taking blood from the usual place, which is a vein.\nAtelectasis (at-a-LEK-tay-sis) \u2014 \u00a0A condition that occurs when part of the lung collapses or compresses because of blockages in the airway.\nBronchi (BRON-key) \u2014 The large air ways of the lungs.\nBronchioles (BRON-key-ols) \u2014 The smaller airways of the lungs.\nBronchodilator (bronk-oh-DY-lay-tor) \u2014 A drug that relaxes the smooth muscles in the airways to help make breathing easier.\nEndotracheal (en-doh-TRAY-kee-ul) tube \u2014 A flexible plastic tube that a doctor or nurse inserts through the mouth or nose and into the trachea (which is the large airway from the mouth to the lungs). The care team might connect this tube to a ventilator.\nExtubation (ex-too-BAY-shun) \u2014 Taking the breathing tube out of the windpipe (trachea).\nIntubation (in-too-BAY-shun) \u2014 Putting the breathing tube into the windpipe (trachea).\nPneumonia (nu-MO-nya) \u2014 Swelling and redness of the lungs caused by an infection.\nPulse oximeter (ox-IM-eh-tur) \u2014 A probe that is placed on a finger, toe, or earlobe to measure the amount of oxygen in the blood.\nRespiratory (RES-per-uh-tor-ee) failure \u2014 A medical condition where a person can’t get enough oxygen or get rid of enough carbon dioxide through normal breathing. This may require the help of a ventilator.\nRestraints \u2014 Soft ties used to restrict movement so that your loved one does not pull out important breathing tubes or medicine lines.\nSuctioning (SUK-shun-ing) \u2014 Using a small plastic tube, called a suction catheter, to remove secretions from the breathing tube and the patients airways.\nTracheostomy (tray-key-OS-tuh-me) or Trach (TRAKE) \u2014 An opening in the neck for placing a breathing tube. This may or may not be in place for a long time.\nVentilation (ven-tuh-LAY-shun) \u2014 The exchange of air between the lungs and the atmosphere, leading to an exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the bloodstream.\nVentilator settings \u2014 Readings that show how much oxygen the patient receives, how often the ventilator is “breathing” for the patient, and the depth of each breath.\nVentilator \u2014 A machine that breathes for the patient.\nWeaning trials \u2014 A process in which the ventilator breathing is slowly cut back to take the patient off the ventilator.