VAP is an infection of the lower respiratory tract. The lower respiratory tract includes:
Small bronchi (airways)Alveoli (air sacs) in the lungs
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VAP affects people who are using a
. This is a machine that helps you breath. VAP is a serious condition. It requires care from a doctor.
VAP is commonly caused by bacteria, such as:
The tube that goes into the lungs makes it easier for bacteria to enter deep into the lungs. This bacteria causes infection.
These factors increase your chance of developing VAP:
Chronic lung diseaseConditions that affect the nervous systemWeak immune systemProlonged antibiotic useIntubated (having a tube placed) more than onceTube placed through a stoma (hole in the throat) rather than down through the nose or mouthProlonged ventilationContinuous sedationProlonged period of lying on backMalnutritionOlder age
Symptoms of VAP may include:
FeverChillsCoughThick mucus, greenish mucus, or pus-like sputumBluish color of nails or lipsNausea or vomitingShortness of breath
Your doctor will review your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will also be done. Tests may include:
—a test that uses radiation to take pictures of structures inside the chest
—a type of x-ray that uses a computer to make pictures of structures inside the chest
Lab cultures of blood and sputumArterial blood gases—measures oxygen, carbon dioxide, and acid in the blood
Treatment depends on which germs are causing the pneumonia. Your doctor will discuss the best treatment plan with you. Treatment options include:
Antibiotics—Antibiotics will be given by IV. Results from the lab tests will guide your doctor’s choice of antibiotic.Oxygen therapy—You may need additional oxygen to increase the level of oxygen in your body.Physical therapy—Physical therapy can help to loosen and remove thick mucus from the lungs.
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 ventilatorClean the inside of your mouth on a regular basisKeep you on the ventilator only if it is necessaryAvoid overly sedating youRegularly suction your airway
American Thoracic Society. Guidelines for the management of adults with hospital-acquired, ventilator-associated, and healthcare-associated pneumonia.
Am J Respir Crit Care Med
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Ventilator-associated pneumonia:
resources for patients and healthcare providers. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at:
. Updated March 16, 2010. Accessed November 11, 2010.
Koenig SM, Truwit JD. Ventilator-associated pneumonia: diagnosis, treatment, and prevention.
Clin Microbio Rev
Last reviewed June 2012 by Tajender S. Vasu, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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