Difference between respirator and ventilator


In this period of fear, pandemonium, and confusion, a lot of things are being mixed up, and one of those are the two most mentioned medical equipment for the treatment and handling of the Coronavirus, that is respirator and ventilator. Many people are confusing one for another, ironically both devices are not the same neither are they synonymous. So what are they? What is the difference? What are they used for? In this piece I am going to clear the air on this topic and try as much as possible to answer these questions.

1: A RESPIRATOR; a respirator is a mask-like device, usually made of a gauze, and it’s worn over the mouth and nose to prevent the inhalation of toxic or noxious substances. Health workers wear respirator(s) to filter out virus particles as they breath so they don’t get infected with viruses such as the Covid-19 while treating or helping patients. It is specifically recommended that health professionals wear the type of respirator called N95, the reason is that this type of respirator fits in tightly to the nose and mouth than other medical and surgical masks. There is another type of respirator called PAPR this type covers the whole face and uses a blower to filter air. Respirators are classified as PPE (personal protective equipments), other PPE’s includes, goggles, gloves and gowns.

As you must have guessed, the name respirator has something to do with respiration (inhalation and exhalation of air) and it’s usually applied when dealing with respiratory diseases such as the Covid-19. The word respirator dates back to the 1785-95, the words “respiratory” “respirator” and “respiration” have their origins from the Latin word “respirare” which means “to breathe out” the verb form is “spirare” which means “to breathe” and that’s the etymology of English words like “inspire” “perspire” “transpire” and “spirit”

2: A VENTILATOR; medically speaking a ventilator is a machine that helps a patient breathe by pumping oxygen into the lungs and remove carbon-dioxide through a tube. The insertion of the tube through a person’s windpipe is called “intubation”
The verb “ventilate means to supply oxygen or helping someone breathe using a mechanical ventilator. Since the Covid-19 is a respiratory infection which causes lungs inflammation which results in difficulty in breathing in patients, this is why ventilator(s) are required to help patients whose cases have become more severe in breathing.
The use of ventilators were first recorded in 1735-45. The words “ventilator” “ventilate” and “ventilation” comes from the Latin word “ventilare” meaning “to fan”

You have learnt something right?? Can you give us your response in the comments section.


Austine Ihechukwu is a Chemistry Education graduate, a prolific writer, Social and Political Commentator. Austine is a seeker of knowledge and a fitness Enthusiast with interest in Sports, Entertainment, Tourism, Technology, History and Business investments. Mr Austine has over a decade experience in Journalism and freelance writing

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