What is an airway?

An airway is a device that helps keep the mouth and windpipe open so that air can reach the lungs. It may also be used to help prevent biting down on the tongue or breathing tube. (Note: Airway is also used to describe the normal passageway for air into and out of the body during breathing, from the mouth and/or nose to the lungs.)

Does use of an airway hurt?

If a patient is awake, an airway may be very uncomfortable. Normally doctors and nurses will not use it when the patient is awake.

How long is an airway used?

An airway is normally only used for a short time, rarely longer than a few days, and usually only a few hours. The length of time depends on the reason the doctor or nurse is using it. Ask the doctor or nurse why the airway is in place to help determine how long it may be used.

Can a patient talk while using an airway?

No. However, if a patient is alert enough to communicate, the airway is normally removed.

Are there any potential complications associated with use of an airway?

Sometimes pressure sores are caused by an airway. These can be prevented by moving the airway from one side of the mouth to the other.

An airway designed to be placed in the mouth Airway positioned in mouth