Difference Between Respirator and Ventilator (With Table)

The entire existence of human beings is based on inhaling oxygen, on breathing. It is in times of health crisis that one requires external support or technical assistance to breathe. Respirators and Ventilators are two devices that are associated with breathing but are different from each other as they are used for distinct purposes.

 Respirator vs Ventilator

The difference between a Respirator and a Ventilator is that Respirator is the device used to prevent an individual from inhaling toxic gases and fumes whereas Ventilator is the machine that provides artificial breaths or ventilation to an individual. The two devices also differ from each other in terms of their usage, structure, etc.

Respirator is a device that resembles the structure of a mask. It is worn primarily to avoid the inhalation of poisonous or harmful gases. It also prevents dangerous substances like virus or bacteria from entering an individual’s mouth as it fits tightly around the nose and jaw.

Ventilator, on the other hand, is a machine that assists an individual in breathing. It provides for mechanical or artificial ventilation to a patient who is not able to breathe on his or her own. It may be required by patients who undergo operations or other diseases due to which the original oxygen supply is reduced.

Comparison Table Between Respirator and Ventilator

Parameters of ComparisonRespiratorVentilator
DefinitionRespirator is a mask-like device worn to prevent the inhalation of toxic or hazardous gases.Ventilator is a device that provides artificial breaths and ventilation to a patient.
FunctionIt serves to protect the wearer from breathing in any toxic substances or gases.It serves to provide oxygen to patients who are unable to breathe naturally.
StructureIt is shaped like a mask and hence worn over the mouth and nose.It is a machine that supplies oxygen to the lungs of a patient and expels carbon dioxide with the help of a tube.
UsageIt is used to remove the contaminated particles suspended in the air and provide a healthier source of air.Ventilator is usually used to treat diseases or issues related to the respiratory tract.
ClassificationThere are two categories of respirators, air-purifying, and air-supplied respirator.These are classified into positive and negative pressure ventilators.

What is Respirator?

Respirator is the mechanism used to protect oneself from the contaminated air around. It saves an individual from inhaling any hazardous or toxic fumes, gases, or substances that may be suspended in the atmosphere. It is a safer and better alternate supply of breathing in air.

It is structured like a mask. Hence, it fits tightly on the nose and covers the mouth completely so that no unwanted and toxic microorganisms can enter one’s body. It uses a strap that is worn around the head to make it stable. The facepieces can be of various types depending upon the choice of the wearer.

Respirators come in two kinds. One is known as the air-purifying respirator and the other one is called the air-supplied respirator. In the former, the air around is filtered of any contaminated particles and then supplied to the wearer whereas in the latter a different source is used to provide the breathable air.

The usage of respirators is widespread. Numerous industries require respirators. For instance, healthcare, oil and gas, pharmaceuticals, and all other such work arenas where the risk of air being contaminated is higher. The word respirator has been derived from a Latin word, ‘respirair’ which means ‘to breathe’ in English.

What is Ventilator?

Ventilator is a machine that is used to provide breathable air or oxygen to a person who is facing trouble in breathing naturally. It is a device that gives mechanical ventilation to the lungs. The air is made to travel in and out of the lungs to keep the patient alive.

Ventilator is a full-size machine that is controlled by a computerized microprocessor. It uses a tube to exude the carbon dioxide out of the body and supply oxygen to the lungs. This tube is connected to the windpipe or the trachea of the patient. This process is called intubation.

These can be classified into two types, positive pressure ventilators, and negative pressure ventilators. Ventilators are commonly used in emergencies where the patient’s ability to breathe naturally reduces. They are, therefore, used in intensive care units, and also as anesthesia machines.

In any pandemic, the requirement and usage of ventilators is at an all-time high because people are unable to breathe due to the lack of oxygen. This is why ventilators are crucial in fighting off such infections. The invention of ventilators goes way back to 1928, during the polio epidemics of that century. With developments being made over the years, ventilators have today become much more sophisticated.

Main Differences Between Respirator and Ventilator

  1. Respirator is a mask-like device while ventilator is a fully developed machine or equipment.
  2. Respirators function to prevent the influx of any unwanted microorganisms from the air into the trachea of a person whereas ventilators provide mechanical breathing to the patient using a tube.
  3. The usage of respirators is seen in industries dealing with hazardous chemicals, gases, vapors, etc. whereas ventilators are generally used in intensive care units and emergencies.
  4. While respirators are worn on the face, covering the mouth and nose, ventilators use a tube that is inserted in the trachea or windpipe of the patient.
  5. Respirators are classified into air-purifiers and air-suppliers. On the other hand, ventilators are of types, positive pressure, and negative pressure ventilators.


Respirators and Ventilators are at times used interchangeably but in fact, these are two different devices that serve a varied purpose. A respirator acts as a barricade for the contaminated air. It filters out the toxic particles that are present in the surroundings and provides a cleaner source of air. These are used in industries such as pharmaceuticals, healthcare, and other industries dealing with hazardous substances or fumes.  

Ventilator, on the other hand, is a machine that is used to provide an artificial supply of air to a patient who is unable to take in the oxygen naturally. It is a life-saving device that uses a tube to give oxygen to the lungs as well as take out the carbon dioxide present. It is used as an anesthesia machine too other than being a part of ICU machinery.


  1. https://academic.oup.com/annweh/article-abstract/53/8/815/154763
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1871402120301132
2D vs 3D