How Long Can A Person Remain Intubated (And Why)?

Exact Answer: 3-4 days

Based on the U.S. National Library of Medicine, intubation is defined as a process in which a tube is set inside a person’s windpipe that is known as the trachea through their mouth or nose. This process is carried out when a person is given under anesthesia while performing surgery or in time of emergencies like if a person is severely ill or wounded and faces difficultly breathing.



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The condition in which a person is not able to breathe on their own. In such a case, a life-saving action occurs in which a physician carries you to an emergency to intubate such that your lungs are ventilated.

How Long Can A Person Remain Intubated

How Long Can A Person Remain Intubated?

DiseaseIntubation period
Influenza2 days
Bronchitis3-5 days
Chickenpox13-17 days
Measles9-12 days
Acute Respiratory Disease5-7 days
Dengue5-8 days
Mumps16-20 days
AIDS1-10 year
Hepatitis A15-40 days
Hepatitis B and C50-150 days

Are you aware what is the purpose of intubation? Intubation is performed because the patient won’t be able to sustain their breath on their own without support or help. For that reason, they need to go through anesthesia during surgery or illness, or pregnancy. Lack of oxygen in their body causes breathing problems.

The extended intubation period refers to surpassing 7 days. From clinical studies, it has been reported that lengthened intubation is a danger for many complexities. Also, keep in mind that anesthesia drugs aim at paralyzing the muscles of your body which includes the diaphragm. The diaphragm is the portion that makes it difficult to grab a breath in the absence of a ventilator.

Transient hoarseness is a popular illness that transpires in one-third of the intubated patients. But it gets resolved automatically within 1 week. Whereas persistent hoarseness is a rare condition and is produced by granuloma inside your vocal cord. Its risk factors require a longer span of intubation for older age groups, and female patients. For females, the use of smaller-sized tubes is recommended to lessen the frequency of persistent hoarseness.

The question of when to intubate and ventilate for a patient is a complex one. Patients with respiratory failure need to think before the judgment and can impact on patients life. Prolonged ventilation is expensive but it is required for 14 to 21 days depending on the patient’s condition. After that, the discharge timing is dependent on the patient’s psychological and social balance.

Why Does It Take This Much Time To Work?

The process of intubation occurs in three different ways:

  1. Nasogastric intubation: In this method, the tube is passed through your nose and travels into your stomach. It removes air blockages or is used for feeding or giving vaccinations to the patient.
  2. Endotracheal intubation: In this method, the tube is passed through your nose or mouth and goes into the trachea. It supports the patient in breathing while they’re under the anesthesia dosage.
  3. Fiber-optic intubation: In this process, the physician injects a tube into your throat. It inspects your throat or assists endotracheal intubation when the patient is unable to extend or move their head.

A patient needs to sleep during surgery so they’re given anesthesia as it holds down your breath. In intubation, a machine is placed for breathing. During an injury or sickness, it’s difficult to breathe. Through breathing every cell of your body gets oxygen. If you don’t get adequate oxygen then you can pass out. It can also lead to brain injury. Also, ventilation helps you to gently blow out.

To get relieved of carbon dioxide that gets mounted in your blood and makes your blood acidic. And causes health difficulties. For normalizing the blood oxygen level in your body intubation period is required. Illness makes you weak and reflexes the airway. So, take time and let your body recover after an injury or surgery.


Complications are rare in the case of intubation. It can harm your teeth’ shape and mouth portion from inside. While inserting the tube, it can damage your esophagus or voice box. Also, it can lead to a sore throat or difficulty in talking or breathing. Intubation can even destroy or collapse your lungs. Usage of the ventilator is completely your choice. an agreement paper is signed for using a machine for breathing. So, think before maintaining oxygen and carbon dioxide levels in your body.


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