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What is Artificial Respiration?

Incubators are used to help premature infants respirate.
Mouth to mouth respiration is used to aid individuals who have stopped breathing.
An EMT may use some form of artificial respiration, including a hand squeeze pump that supplies air.
Intubation is standard in many surgical procedures, even when a patient doesn't need breathing support.
Oxygen being supplied to a patient with an oxygen mask as a form of artificial respiration.
Artificial respiration supplies a person with air, which travels down the trachea and bronchi into the lungs.
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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 24 August 2014
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Artificial respiration means applying some method to supply a person with air, or essentially breathing for him. There are natural methods for doing this, such as blowing air into a person’s mouth when performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), and there are also hand operated or mechanical ways to provide these needed breaths if a person is not breathing on his own or is not breathing adequately.

When the body does not get enough oxygen because it is not breathing on its own or not breathing enough, the brain cells begin to deteriorate rapidly. They rely on a constant supply of oxygen in order to stay alive. This is why artificial respiration is so vital under many circumstances. In order to hopefully preserve brain cells and prevent tissue death, a continued supply of oxygen is required.

Mechanical respiration can be used to maintain life in people who are essentially brain dead. This method may be used when a person has technically died but is a designated organ donor. Keeping organs fully functioning is necessary to provide the best chance that they will be successfully transplanted. In these cases, the person truly is not alive and meets many other standards that define death, but it can be challenging for that person’s survivors to consider them as "gone" because a machine is providing them with breath.

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The most basic level of artificial respiration is mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. In the field, and when EMT or medical workers are moving patients, they may also use a hand squeeze pump to supply needed air. More extensive methods of providing air include placing tubes in the nose or the mouth, called intubation.

Intubation can provides air by machine, and it can use air with a higher oxygen content as needed or simply use room air. This also helps prevent things like vomiting into the lungs during or after surgery. Intubation is standard in many surgeries even if people don’t need breathing support; the tube allows quick access in case breathing slows down so much that support is required. People can continue to breathe on their own through the tube.

The most invasive way in which artificial respiration is provided is through a hole in the trachea. Sometimes, a medical condition may make it impossible to place a tube from the mouth into the trachea, and medical workers may need more direct access to it. Cutting a small hole in the base of throat provides this access and may be needed occasionally.

People who have respiration assistance don’t necessarily lack the ability to breathe. They may not be able to breathe enough, and many forms of anesthesia repress or suppress breathing so much that people won’t take as many breaths as they need while drugged. Premature infants born with insufficient lung function and capacity may require extra support from mechanized respiration too, so they get the vital oxygen and gas exchange they require to promote growth and brain health. Sometimes, mechanical respiration may be a complicated issue in these smallest of patients and can cause damage and side effects, though the benefits often outweigh risks.

Many people who are intubated during surgery are extubated before they even wake up, but some people may continue to need respiration support for a while. Basically, machines that provide respiration can be programmed to take the additional breaths a patient is failing to take. Once the patient begins to take these breaths on their own, he is weaned off artificial means of respiration.

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Discuss this Article

anon296850
Post 3

I was just wondering what the artificial breathing aids are? I have a powerpoint to do and I don't have a clue.

candyquilt
Post 2

We learned about artificial respiration in class. My professor said that mouth to mouth artificial respiration is the best and preferred method. There is more air flow through the mouth than through the nose. She said that the bone and marrow structure of the nose does not always allow a sufficient amount of air to reach the lungs.

We also learned how to do emergency mouth to mouth respiration on a dummy in class. I think that this is such vital knowledge. It can literally save a life. I think everyone needs to know how to do it.

fify
Post 1

A classmate of mine had a heart attack two years ago. She was around fifty years old and had no apparent health problems. Several of us went to the hospital to see what her condition was.

She was tied to a respiratory machine. Her heart had stopped several times after the heart attack and along with it, her breathing. She didn't get any oxygen for 15 or 20 minutes and brain death had occurred as a result.

It was a very emotional time, watching our friend on artificial respiration. You could tell that she was breathing by force because every time the machine pumped air into her lungs, her body shook a little.

Artificial respiration could not do much for her because brain death had already occurred. I also don't know whether her family chose to donate her organs. We unfortunately lost her, may she rest in peace.

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