A ventilator (VEN-til-a-tor) is a machine that supports breathing. These machines mainly are used in hospitals. Ventilators:
  • Get oxygen into the lungs.
  • Remove carbon dioxide from the body. (Carbon dioxide is a waste gas that can be toxic.)
  • Help people breathe easier.
  • Breathe for people who have lost all ability to breathe on their own.
A ventilator often is used for short periods, such as during surgery when you’re under general anesthesia (AN-es-THE-ze-ah). The term “anesthesia” refers to a loss of feeling and awareness. General anesthesia temporarily puts you to sleep. The medicines used to induce anesthesia can disrupt normal breathing. A ventilator helps make sure that you continue breathing during surgery. A ventilator also may be used during treatment for a serious lung disease or other condition that affects normal breathing.