Suffer from Sleep Apnea? What You Need to Know About CPAP and BiPAP Machines

Bipap mask

Have you been told you have sleep apnea? If you have, you are not alone. It has been estimated that at least 18 million people in the United States suffer from the sleep disorder. It can be very serious as people will stop breathing multiple times during the night while they are sleeping. There are two kinds of machines that are used to treat this serious sleep disorder. When looking at treatment options, sleep apnea patients have to look at BiPAP vs CPAP machines.

Examining BiPAP vs CPAP machines. What are they?

BiPAP machines are two level (bilevel) positive airway pressure machines. CPAP machines are continuous positive airway pressure machines. The former delivers both pressure for the inhalation and the exhalation process while the latter only offers inhalation pressure.

How does that work?

CPAP machines were developed to deliver their air pressure into the nostrils and into the back of the throat. This is how the opening to the airway is maintained. The user of the machine can adjust the pressure asa needed. They are able to make some kinds of adjustments to the way the CPAP machines move the air into the airway to keep it open while the patient sleeps.

The BiPAP machine is very similar to the CPAP machine. While the set up for the use of the BiPAP machine is pretty much the same as the CPAP machine, both use nasal pillows, masks and tubing, the pressure settings on the BiPAP machine are very different. When you are looking at the BiPAP vs CPAP machines question, the pressure settings are what make the two machines so different. The two different pressures that are delivered by the BiPAP machine are referred to as inhalation positive airway pressure (IPAP) and exhalation positive airway pressure (EPAP).

For patients who need a little extra in the way of respiratory support, the addition of the EPAP in the BiPAP machine can make a lot of difference in how well they are able to breathe and the kind of sleep that they get. People with coronary heart disease, congestive heart failure, neurological conditions or pulmonary disorders can often benefit more from BiPAP machines rather than the CPAP options. Sufferers of neuromuscular conditions have also noted getting more help from machines that offer the two pressures rather than just the one.

There are two settings that are common for BiPAP machines. A minimum number of breaths per minute is set so that when the person stops breathing during the night, the machine notes that and kicks in. The machine also can measure a persons inhaling and exhaling to get a sense for how much effort they need to exert for both action. One real benefit that BiPAP machines have over CPAP machines is their ability to make it easier for patients to exhale as many experience significant strain when they do this on their own. If there is any concern about how much work a patient needs to do upon exhalation, the question of BiPAP vc CPAP is an easy one to answer. These people would benefit more from using a BiPAP machine rather than the CPAP counterpart.

How big is a BiPAP machine?

CPAP machines and newer BiPAP machines are pretty much the same size. They have been described as being about the same size as a typical lunchbox. Many people worry about the noise level of the different machines but advancements in the technology have resulted in both BiPAP machines and CPAP machines that run quieter. Some people compare them to some white noise machines in the noise that they make. If patients suffer from a dry mouth, throat or nose as a result of using one of these machines, most have humidifiers as a part of the machinery that delivers warmer, moist air to help with the dryness that can be caused by forcing air into the airway.

When people who suffer from sleep apnea are looking at the BiPAP vs CPAP question, the best way to resolve the issue is to undergo a sleep study in a certified sleep center. While it is possible to do a sleep study at home, going to a center will yield much better results.

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