What are the Different Types of Respiratory Equipment?

Face masks are used for infants and children who are unable to hold the mouthpiece of a nebulizer.
Inhalers are among the most common types of respiratory equipment.
A bag valve mask may be used to help an individual who can no longer sufficiently breathe on his own.
A man using a BiPAP breathing mask.
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  • Written By: SMathis
  • Edited By: J.T. Gale
  • Last Modified Date: 17 November 2015
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There are numerous types of respiratory equipment that are used in hospitals, patient homes, and the community. Types of respiratory equipment include ventilators, apnea monitors, nebulizers, continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) and bi-level positive airway pressure (BiPAP) machines, and oxygen concentrators. The type of equipment and how it is used varies based on the needs of the individual patient.

Ventilators are a type of respiratory equipment that breathes for a person when he or she is unable to breathe on his or her own. A ventilator is a device that blows air into the lungs and creates positive air pressure within the alveoli. The machines are used in emergency medicine, at home, with anesthesia, and in intensive care units. High frequency percussive ventilators are used when patients need high respiratory rates. It can help reduce lung injury that may occur from being on a ventilator.

CPAP and BiPAP machines are two different types of respiratory equipment that are used by adults who have sleep apnea, and by premature infants. Through a mask, the CPAP provides continuous airflow that stops apnea episodes – the closing of airway passages, primarily during sleep. BiPAP machines also work through a mask and provide bi-level airflow. By contrast, a BiPAP provides one level of air pressure when a patient breathes in and one level of airflow when the patient breathes out.


Many premature infants are sent home from the hospital with apnea monitors. In premature babies, the nervous system is not mature enough to allow them to have non-stop breathing. An apnea monitor is a type of respiratory equipment that has a belt containing sensory wires that are connected to a monitor. The belt is worn around the infant’s chest and is connected to the monitor that sounds an alarm when the baby stops breathing.

Nebulizers are a type of respiratory equipment that delivers various types of pulmonary medications into the lungs of a patient. There are many different types of nebulizers. Some are portable and some are stationary.

Oxygen concentrators and liquid oxygen are additional types of respiratory equipment. Some patients with lung disorders need supplemental oxygen. An oxygen concentrator is plugged into a wall outlet and provides supplemental oxygen through tubing that is attached to the machine. A tank of liquid oxygen will also provide the patient with supplemental oxygen and it does not require electricity, therefore facilitating the mobility of the patient.

Chest percussion equipment is a type of respiratory equipment that is used to help clear lung secretions. A percussor is a hand-held device that is used on a patient’s lungs to break up the mucus so he or she can cough it out. There is also a vest system that clears lung secretions: a patient puts on an inflatable vest and connects it to an air compressor which then vibrates against the chest and loosens pulmonary secretions.


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