Quick-Read: Why Being on a Ventilator is Much More Painful than You Think [+Infographic]

Quick-Read: Why Being on a Ventilator is Much More Painful than You Think [+Infographic]

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There are many reasons you do not want to contract the evil COVID-19, but I put together 11 facts solely around mechanical ventilators used in Intensive Care Units (ICUs) that should prove enough to stir your imagination and convince you to step up your preventive measures suite a gear!

World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that roughly four-fifth of COVID-19 patients won’t need hospitalisation. But 20% is still a huge number, especially with millions contracting the virus worldwide. A percentage of the hospitalised patients would be severely ill and, as a result, need mechanical ventilation.

What everyone needs to understand is that this type of ventilation is not the same as wearing a simple mask and then going about your daily life business!

Ventilator Facts

  1. Mechanical ventilation requires intubation, i.e. a tube inserted into the patient’s airway.

  2. This procedure usually takes anywhere between 1 to 3 weeks without their being able to leave the hospital bed

  3. The patient is sometimes put in the prone position because it can improve ventilation

  4. They are usually sedated so that their dependence on a mechanical ventilator can be better managed

  5. They cannot speak, eat, relieve themselves, or attend to their own basic needs

  6. Their food is provided them in liquid form via an IV through nose or skin whilst several other IVs administer medicine to them, an arterial line monitors their blood pressure, &c

  7. The patient’s urine is removed via a catheter (rubber tube) inserted into their bladder

  8. Their bowel movements are taken care of by faecal collectors, e.g. an intra-anal stool bag

  9. A young healthy patient would lose about 12% of their muscle strength after “just over a week” under such bedridden circumstances

  10. They could develop pulmonary (lung-related) and extrapulmonary complications, including damage to their vocal cords

  11. And, finally, a team of nurses have to reposition them every couple of hours or so to keep them from developing bedsores

To make myself clear, ventilation in critical care is NOT the problem here; the real bad guys are those teeny-weeny Coronaviruses which are unfortunately wreaking havoc on patients’ lungs. It’s at that point that mechanical ventilators become necessary to save lives so, in other words, these machines are life-savers. But that comes with a considerable price, part of which has to do with the debilitating effects of being hooked onto a ventilator and confined to a hospital bed for an extended period of time. A journey of recovery, both physical and mental, that only starts after leaving the ICU.


Therefore, with these 11 reasons round ventilators in mind, it makes sense for you to listen to Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and follow these 5 “simple steps”:

  1. Wear a mask, especially in closed spaces
  2. Social-distance (when you are around non-family members)
  3. Wash hands regularly (and do not touch your face when outdoors)
  4. Gather outdoors instead of indoors—and, last but not least:
  5. Avoid crowds (and stay home whenever possible)


Infographic: Why Being on a Ventilator is Much More Painful than You Think
Infographic: Why Being on a Ventilator is Much More Painful than You Think


I have written more on health in How to Protect Vision Health in 9 Tested Ways [+Infographic] and on quarantine in Why This 1 Popular Myth about Quarantine Can Damage You!