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Alveoli  

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Definition  

Ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP) is an infection of the lungs that affects people who are on a ventilator . A ventilator is a machine that helps you breathe. Pneumonia affects the small airways and air sacs in the lungs.

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Causes  

VAP is commonly caused by specific bacteria. The tube that goes into the lungs makes it easier for bacteria to enter deep into the lungs.

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Risk Factors  

Factors that may increase your chance of developing VAP include:

  • Chronic lung disease
  • Conditions that affect the nervous system
  • Weakened immune system
  • Prolonged antibiotic use
  • Repeated intubation
  • Tube placed through a stoma (hole in the throat) rather than down through the nose or mouth
  • Prolonged ventilation
  • Continuous sedation
  • Prolonged period of lying on back
  • Malnutrition
  • Older age
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Symptoms  

VAP may cause:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Cough
  • Thick mucus, greenish mucus, or pus-like phlegm
  • Bluish color of nails or lips
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Shortness of breath
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Diagnosis  

Your doctor will review your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will also be done. Tests may include:

  • Blood tests, which may include arterial blood gases to measure oxygen, carbon dioxide, and acid in the blood
  • Blood cultures
  • Cultures from below the chest tube
  • Chest x-ray
  • CT scan
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Treatment  

Treatment depends on which germs are causing the pneumonia. Your doctor will discuss the best treatment plan with you. Treatment options include:

  • IV antibiotics
  • Oxygen therapy to increase the level of oxygen in your body
  • Chest physical therapy to loosen and remove thick mucus from the lungs
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Prevention  

To reduce your chance of VAP, the hospital staff will:

  • Elevate the head of your bed 30°-45°
  • Wash their hands before and after touching you or the ventilator
  • Clean the inside of your mouth on a regular basis
  • Keep you on the ventilator only if it is necessary
  • Avoid overly sedating you
  • Regularly suction your airway