It’s important to know the basics about the different types of PAP (positive airway pressure) devices that are used to treat sleep apnea. Whether you’re newly diagnosed with sleep apnea or a more seasoned user or healthcare provider, this post outlines the basics of each of the devices.

Our goal is to help you understand the differences in the devices or better understand the device you’re currently using. Ultimately, we want to help those who suffer from sleep apnea to be successful with PAP therapy. Read on!

What’s a CPAP Machine?

CPAP stands for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure. It is the most popular sleep apnea treatment for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). It uses air pressure generated by a machine, delivered through a tube into a mask that fits over the nose or mouth. 

How Does It Work?

CPAP therapy uses a CPAP machine designed to deliver air pressure through the nostrils into the back of the throat in order to keep the airway open. The pressure is adjustable. There are several potential modifications to the way the air can be delivered in order to keep the airway open during sleep.

Who Uses It?

CPAP therapy is used amongst people with severe breathing problems during sleep. It is the most recommended sleep apnea treatment for patients who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea because they are unable to receive enough air to their lungs. In addition to adults, this sleep apnea treatment is used for infants as well. Infants whose lungs have not fully developed will be placed on CPAP therapy in order to have air blown into their lungs.

How Big Are CPAP Machines?

Not all CPAP machines are the same size or weight. Each product varies, but generally, they are fairly small and portable. Choosing which size is right for you depends on where you’ll be using it. If you are only using it at home, a bigger CPAP machine may be doable. If you plan on traveling with it, purchase a more compact option.

What’s a BiPAP Machine?

BiPAP refers to Bilevel or two-level Positive Airway Pressure. Like CPAP, this sleep apnea treatment works by sending air through a tube into a mask that fits over the nose. While CPAP generally delivers a single pressure, BiPAP delivers two: an inhale pressure and an exhale pressure. These two pressures are known as inhalation positive airway pressure (IPAP) and exhalation positive airway pressure (EPAP). 

How Does It Work?

The BiPAP machine usually has two settings, and the effort when inhaling and exhaling is monitored. When the person sleeping doesn’t breathe for a programmed period of time, the BiPAP may be set to deliver a breath. This is usually set as a minimum breath or ‘back-up rate’ that sets minimum breaths per minute (BPM). This setting is designed so that the patient breathes a set frequency of breaths per minute.

Who Uses It?

This sleep apnea treatment is often used with individuals who need extra respiratory support. It is often prescribed for patients with congestive heart failure/coronary artery disease and pulmonary or neurologic medical disorders. Patients with neuromuscular disorders may also benefit from the pressure differential of a BiPAP device.

How Big Are BiPAP Machines?

New BiPAP machines are similar in size to CPAP devices, which is about the size of a lunchbox. They’re designed to be silent so as not to interrupt the sleeper. Most BiPAP units offer a humidifier option to prevent the drying of the mucosal membranes.

What is the difference between CPAP and BiPAP?

difference between cpap and bipap

There is one major difference between CPAP and BiPAP machines. CPAP machines are set at one single pressure, while BiPAP machines are programmed with two distinct pressures, one for inhaling and one for exhaling. CPAP machines are primarily used to treat Obstructive Sleep Apnea, while BiPAP machines are used to treat Central Sleep Apnea, Complex Sleep Apnea, or COPD.

Here are a few other key differences between the machines:

  • There is no ultra-portable BiPAP machine, while there are travel CPAPs.
  • Unlike CPAPs, BiPAP machines can deliver pressure settings up to a setting of 25.
  • BiPAP machines may be more comfortable because of the two different pressures.

Also, sensors in the BiPAP machine detect an increase in airflow as you inhale and immediately add to this inhaled airflow, increasing its volume. When you breathe out, sensors indicate that airflow has stopped, and it reduces the amount of air pressure applied to the airway. As a result of this change in airflow, breathing becomes easier.

How much does BIPAP or CPAP Cost?

A CPAP mask can be purchased for $185. The cost of maintenance and replacement of some of the parts can also adapt to its cost. However, a BiPAP machine is costly because of its complex technology and is more sophisticated and complex due to its variety of conditions. This machine can cost up to $5000.

CPAP and BiPAP are controlled by the FDA, so you will need to be given a prescription to get one. Alternatively, you can purchase it from the hospital, especially if your personal doctor advises you accordingly, and if you have good insurance coverage, it will be an added advantage.

Before you choose any of these devices, it is essential to read reviews on the internet, or you can ask your doctor for his or her opinion. This is to enable you to choose the best machine suitable for your condition. It is also essential to check on issues, such as humidity leak rates and its features. Additionally, BiPAP has sophisticated humidifiers designed to provide optimal humidification and temperatures for its users. This results in comfort when using the therapy. Besides, humidifiers can be turned off for the air to be at room temperature. Humidification is significant because it reduces soreness and dryness of muscle passages, which is why you should consider a machine that provides such conditions.  

Why Would a BiPAP Machine be a Good Fit for Me?

Although most people with sleep apnea use CPAP, there are certain conditions where BiPAP might be a better option:

If you require higher CPAP pressures. If you have low oxygen levels and your sleep specialist has determined that you require higher CPAP air pressure to treat your apnea effectively, you may benefit from a BiPAP machine. Many people who need higher air pressure prefer the comfort of a BiPAP, with its lower expiratory pressure. Exhaling against high air pressure can feel like a struggle and may make it harder for you to fall asleep or stay asleep.

If you have obstructive sleep apnea (CSA): this is among the sleep disorders that are momentarily characterized by stopping breathing, which is possibly caused by obstruction or collapse of the airways as a result of the accumulation of fat in the throat.

If you have central sleep apnea(CSA): these conditions occur when there is no coordination between the brain and the lungs. The brain might stop sending signals commanding inhalation and exhalation. This condition, therefore, is due to a neurological communication disorder. 

If you have complex sleep apnea: this can be referred to as mixed sleep apnea because it combines both symptoms from CSA and OSA. This condition is not eliminated effectively b CPAP therapy.

If you have obesity hypoventilation syndrome (OHS). This form of sleep-disorder breathing tends to affect people who have a high BMI. You may breathe too shallowly or slowly during sleep, which can lead to respiratory depression (hypoventilation) and a high level of carbon dioxide (CO2) in your bloodstream.

A dangerous condition called hypoxia can develop, sometimes resulting in heart failure or respiratory failure. BiPAP, with its restrictive component, can be a better option for people with OHS because of its ventilatory effect. The higher inspiratory pressure and the lower expiratory pressure can help you to get sufficient oxygen while expelling CO2.

If you have pulmonary disorders (chronic): this is a progressive condition that blocks gaseous exchange in the lungs.

if you have congestive heart failure: this is a chronic add condition which, in some cases, can be fatal because the circulatory system, especially the heart, can fail to pump enough blood that is required by the other body systems to function well.

Is BiPAP therapy right for you?

Don’t forget that the main difference between these two machines depends on your needs. Each individual responds differently to each treatment method, so we recommend that you follow your sleep physician’s advice based on your test and treatment results. Appropriate testing is essential to determine what treatment method would suit your needs better and what settings are appropriate for you.

But keep in mind that you can still ask your doctor for a different treatment option if you find one type of PAP machine difficult to use. CPAP, APAP and BiPAP therapy are all appropriate treatment modalities for some patients.

Final verdict

I have exclusively covered everything that you needed to know when using CPAP and BIPAP. They are good and recommended for patients with various conditions that are mentioned in this article. However, the choice on which is best depends mostly or your attitude and needs. Both machines work very well when you follow their prescription. You can experience some challenges, which include high prices and some technical issues. Basically, CPAP and BIPAP are the best you can have. Get one to meet your needs. 

Additional helpful articles
After you read this article be sure to check out these other helpful and informative articles all in one spot to help you find the right equipment for your sleep apnea treatment so you can spend more time on the things that really matter to you:

Causes, Symptoms and Treatments of Sleep Apnea
Alternatives to CPAP mask in treatment of sleep apnea
Best cpap mask for side and stomach sleepers
maxillomandibular advancement for sleep apnea

 

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