Breathing support

Giving oxygen

This is a very common breathing support. It is given to children who are breathing for themselves. It is usually given through a mask or delivered through a device that sits under the nostrils called “nasal prongs”

Giving high flow oxygen

Oxygen that is humidified and mixed with air can also support children who are breathing for themselves. The mixture of oxygen and air is given at a “high flow”. It is usually delivered through nasal prongs in children.

Pressure support with CPAP and BiPAP

CPAP and BiPAP give ‘pressure' support to the airways and also deliver oxygen. This is type of support is given through a mask. The ventilator is used to give this support but the child is managing some breathing on their own.

The mask is often tightly fitted. The mask can cover the child’s nose, their nose and mouth together or their whole face. The pressure can be constant (CPAP) or can switch on and off each time your child takes a breath (BiPAP). This extra support is often given in children who have respiratory illnesses.

Some children can not breathe efficiently for themselves. They may need a ventilator to fully support breathing as they recover from an illness or operation.

Related topics

This topic was reviewed by a paediatric intensive care medicine specialist in August 2022.

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