Learning about ventilators

A ventilator is a machine that breathes for you or helps you breathe. It is also called a breathing machine or respirator. The ventilator:

  • Is attached to a computer with knobs and buttons that are controlled by a respiratory therapist, nurse, or health care provider.
  • Has tubes that connect to the person through a breathing tube. The breathing tube is placed in the person's mouth or in an opening through the neck into the windpipe (trachea). This opening is called a tracheostomy. It is often needed for those who have to be on the ventilator for a longer period of time.
  • May sometimes be connected to a tight fitting mask over the mouth or nose of the person (similar to CPAP and BiPAP).
  • Makes noise and has alarms that alert the health care team when something needs to be fixed or changed.

How Does Being on a Ventilator Feel?

Why are Ventilators Needed?

What Kind of Care Does a Person Need When on a Ventilator?