How Long Can One Be Intubated (And Why)?

Exact Answer: Up to 14 days

The intubation process helps in air passing inside and out in the lungs. In this process, a tube is inserted into the lungs. The tube is either inserted from the nose or mouth into the lungs. The person may not survive if the intubation goes for months. Some people may have to be intubated for a few days while others for weeks.

The person may be safely intubated for around 14 to 15 days. The risk of health problems would increase if the person stays intubated for a long time. People with other health complications may die early if intubated for more than 7 to 10 days. The life span of an intubated person depends on the health conditions and problems of the patient.

How Long Can One Be Intubated


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How Long Can One Be Intubated?    

In weeks2 weeks
In days14 days

There are many reasons for doctors taking the help of intubation. Most of the time, the doctor uses the intubation process to help the patient breathe in an emergency. The intubation process is also used for supporting the person breathing during or after the surgery. There are two types of invitation depending on the location where the tube is inserted.

Endotracheal intubation- In this type of intubation, the doctor would insert the tube through the mouth of the person.

Nasotracheal intubation- In this type of intubation, the doctor would insert the tube through the nose of the patient.

The use of endotracheal intubation is very commonly used in people who require breathing support instantly. Inserting the tube through the nose takes some time and is not easy.

The tube used in endotracheal intubation is larger than the tube in nasotracheal intubation. Therefore, in an emergency, the doctor can enter the tube with very little effort and instantly.

People who stay on ventilators for more than 15 or 17 days would be at higher risk. Some of the risks are:

Sore throat


Hole in the soft palate


Trauma to sinus or windpipe

Trauma to voice box and mouth

Soft tissues damage

Aspiration pneumonia is a very common health risk found in people who are intubated. A bacterial infection can cause a person to die.

Why Can One Be Intubated For This Long?

Intubation is a very helpful medical way to help people to breathe properly. The process of intubation would help in removing the blockages that restrict the passage of air. The airways will be opened by the intubation process of the exchange of oxygen, or medicines.

People with heart failure or trauma will have to get intubated for breathing. Sometimes, the doctors would not be able to clearly see the airways and they will do the intubation process in such a situation. The intubation process in adults and children would be almost the same. The size of the tube would be different in both children and adults. 

The process of intubation is quite difficult in newborns as their windpipe is not very flexible. The newborns have longer tongues that may cause other problems for inserting tubes. In the process, after the doctor inserted the tubes, it is supported by a balloon at the end position of the tube.

The balloon is inflated to prevent the air from escaping and secure the position of the tube inserted.

The intubation process is not a permanent process to help the breathing of a person. Therefore, if the person doesn’t recover in a few days, then the recovery chance decreases. The persons with many diseases would have fewer chances of getting recovered if the intubation continued for more than 15 days.


The life span of the intubated patient depends on the reasons for intubation. If the person is experiencing extremely severe health problems, then the survival chances are very low. The doctor would be the best person to inform the health condition of the intubated patient.

The tracheal tube is removed with the help of the extubation process. If any person experiences a coughing or sore throat after extubation. Then the expert may help in giving some medicines to improve the symptoms.



Last Updated : 23 February, 2024

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