Tired? How to Decide Between BIPAP and CPAP Quickly

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Sleep apnea is now a household term. You may even know someone who suffers from the nighttime disorder, as it effects roughly 18 million Americans. What you probably do not know is that there are actually two types of sleep apnea, and the methods of treating the two may overlap.

Sleep Apnea Causes (And the Dangers of Ignoring the Signs).

Obstructive Sleep Apnea, or OSA for short, occurs when a person’s airway is momentarily obstructed. Usually, the person has weaker throat muscles that collapse a bit when they fall unconscious. Others may have an unusually shaped nasal/ throat cavity that can be adjusted with surgery. Non-obstructive sleep apnea, or central sleep apnea, is when a person’s brain fails to send the appropriate signals when their body is sleeping, causing them to temporarily stop breathing. The lack of oxygen wakes them up just enough to start breathing again, although they are likely unaware of this happening. For example, obstructive sleep apnea may cause a sufferer to awaken up to 60 times in one hour, but if someone were aware of that happening they would probably think they had terrible insomnia, not that they were on the brink of suffocation.

How to Find Out If You Have Sleep Apnea.

People who share a bed with someone are more likely to see a doctor for their disorder. Their bed partner, oddly enough, is usually the one who wakes up and realizes their partner is having trouble breathing. A doctor will ask about previous health problems, and may ask the patient to keep a sleep journal for a few weeks. The next step is testing, which may be administered at home or in a sleep clinic. An at-home test is conducted by the patient using a sleep apnea machine that records how many times their breathing is interrupted during the night. Testing at a sleep clinic is generally more expensive but may be covered by most insurance companies. This option also gives the doctor a more detailed report on the patient’s sleep health.

What Treatment Options Are Available for Those With the Disorder?

Once someone has been diagnosed with sleep apnea, treatment will need to be decided upon. The terms continuous positive airway pressure and bi-level positive airway pressure, or CPAP machines and BiPAP, respectively. BiPAP vs CPAP depends largely on what type of sleep apnea the patient actually has. People with central sleep apnea will want to use a CPAP machine. A person with OSA will want to wear a BiPAP mask instead. So despite appearances, the BiPAP vs CPAP debate is based on the individual and their needs.

Sleep apnea can be a frightening diagnosis for some people, especially if they have never known anyone who lives with the disorder. Finding out your body decides to stop breathing when you are unconscious is alarming, no mistake. But it is certainly a treatable disorder. Although there are new terms to learn, such as nasal pillows and BiPAP vs CPAP questions, it is manageable.

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