What Is A Respirator Machine

What Is a Respirator Machine?

A respirator machine or ventilator is used to help someone breathe. These machines are usually found in intensive care units in hospitals, nursing homes and rehabilitation centers. There are also models that can be used at home for those who have chronic conditions. Smaller portable machines can be used by those who do not need to be confined to a bed.


If you know someone who is unable to breathe unassisted, he may need to be placed on a respirator machine or ventilator. This machine artificially breathes for you and takes over the work of the lungs.

Set Up

A plastic tube runs from the machine and is inserted in the patient’s nose or mouth. The tube continues down through the windpipe (trachea) and into the lungs. If the patient needs to be on the respirator long term, then an incision is made in the trachea so the tube can be inserted directly into the windpipe.


Some machines monitor the patient. If the patient takes a breath the machine is idle. If he does not take a breath on his own, the machine initiates a breath for him. Other machines can be set to automatically deliver breaths at a rate set by a medical professional.


A respirator machine uses pressurized air to blow oxygen into the lungs when the patient is unable to inhale enough air in on his own. Sometimes the patient is able to breathe out on his own and in other cases the machine helps with exhalation too.

Exchange of Gases

The respirator machine must also process the blood gases by supplying the right level of oxygen and removing carbon dioxide. A medical team will monitor the patient’s progress to ensure there is the right balance of gases in the blood to avoid complications. The airflow of the respirator can be adjusted if needed.

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A respirator machine’s function is to support life either for a short period such as during surgery, or for longer periods in those that are seriously ill. Ventilators do not cure breathing problems. When you are able, your medical team will help you wean off the machine and help you learn to breathe on your own again.