When a person is suffering from a severe respiratory illness such as COVID-19, they may need the support of a ventilator to help them breathe. A ventilator is a device that pumps air with extra oxygen into the airways of patients who are unable to breathe properly on their own. It helps them survive until they can get better and their lungs can work on their own. Ventilators are used to support breathing during surgery, as well as for those with severe lung damage due to an injury or illness such as COVID-19. It can help save the lives of some people with COVID-19 by keeping their lungs in a supportive shape until their bodies can fight the virus.
When a patient is well enough, their doctor will evaluate their breathing and decide if they need to be taken off the ventilator. People who stay in intensive care units (ICUs) may need the support of a ventilator, including those with severe symptoms of COVID-19. It is important to note that a ventilator does not cure COVID-19 or any other illness that caused the respiratory problem. It simply helps the patient survive until they can get better and their lungs can work on their own.