In this period of emergency everyone, at least one time, has heard the word “ventilator” linked to the spread of Covid-19, but what is that machine and how does it work?

The ventilator is a method of blowing oxygen direct into the lungs of the patient, increasing their natural breathing ability. We know one of the common symptoms in people affected by Covid-19 is the pulmonary insufficiency, affecting the lungs’ ability to gain enough oxygen. 10% of the affected are in intensive therapy, attached to the ventilators to receive artificial respiration.

To better understand the function, some information on the structure: For patients in serious conditions, from the mask covering the nose and the mouth, a tube connected to the ventilator machine passes down the trachea and the bronchi to reach the lungs. In the worst cases the tube is passed though an incision on the neck.

In less dangerous cases the patient only has the mask without the internal tubes. The treatment is chosen by the doctors on the basis of the patient’s health. Meanwhile for people who aren’t in intensive therapy the system adopted is a respiratory helmet, better known as CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure), which follows the same basis of the mask.

The ventilator helps the muscles normally required for respiration that aren’t able to do their work because of consequences of the virus, such as asthma, infections and distresses.

The ventilator calculates the patient breathing’s frequency and pressure, on this base it insufflate a personalized quantity of oxygen in order to permit the exchange of air between the alveoli and the sanguineous capillaries and at the same time to allow the release of carbon dioxide, starting again the entire process.

The current alarm is because there aren’t enough ventilators available for the patients. To help, many engineering companies have converted their production to manufacture more and save as many lives as possible. Only together can we beat this invisible enemy.

Written by Nicolas Spirito.