The Difference Between CPAP and BiPAP Machines

If your partner complains about you snoring or making gasping and choking noises in your sleep, it likely means you’re suffering from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) or another sleep disorder such as upper respiratory resistance syndrome (UARS). With either of these sleep disorders, you’re likely to experience extreme fatigue, headaches upon waking, and various other symptoms that directly affect your quality of life and day-to-day performance. It’s encouraged to schedule a visit with your healthcare provider and get the proper diagnosis. You will likely be prescribed a CPAP or BiPAP machine depending on the severity of your conditions.

All About BiPAP Therapy

Getting diagnosed with sleep apnea can be nerve-racking but also relieving because it can be treated. Upon determining the level of sleep apnea you have and accounting for any underlying health issues, your doctor will identify whether a CPAP or BiPAP machine will be best for you.

What is BiPAP?

Individuals that suffer from sleep apnea may find relief with a BiPAP (Bilevel Positive Airway Pressure) machine. This machine functions similarly to a CPAP machine as it is designed to keep your airway from collapsing during sleep, thus allowing for easy and regular breathing. The term bilevel refers to the two-level positive airway pressure capabilities meaning the pressures individuals experience vary from inhaling and exhaling. The two pressures provided by a BiPAP machine are called inhalation positive airway pressure (IPAP) and exhalation positive airway pressure (EPAP).

When using a BiPAP machine, individuals can program two settings relevant to your sleep study findings and pressure recommendations from your healthcare professional. The BiPAP machine is also designed to monitor when inhaling and exhaling occurs. If a sleeping individual doesn’t breathe for an allotted period of time, the BiPAP can be programmed to deliver a breath. This function is designed to create a regular breath per minute (BPM) pattern for individuals that may not have one otherwise.

Who Uses It?

Anyone that has been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is eligible to use a BiPAP machine. However, similar to a CPAP machine, your healthcare professional must prescribe you with the use of a BiPAP machine. BiPAP machines are most commonly prescribed to individuals with sleep apnea that require high-pressure settings, have low oxygen levels, or haven’t found relief with a CPAP machine. Other than these factors, a few more health conditions result in the need for extra respiratory support, meaning a BiPAP machine prescription may be necessary:

  • Cardiopulmonary disorders
  • Lung disorders
  • Neuromuscular disorders

All About CPAP Therapy

Upon determining whether you have sleep apnea or another sleep disorder, you will likely be relieved but also met with the question of whether you’ll be able to find relief. After completing a sleep study, the severity of your sleep apnea will be determined along with whether a CPAP or BiPAP machine will benefit you.

What is CPAP?

Those who suffer from sleep apnea are likely more familiar with the CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machine, which is the most popular treatment option for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). This machine functions very similarly to a BiPAP machine; however, it offers only one pressure level setting rather than two. When using a CPAP machine, a constant flow of pressurized air is delivered into your airway via a face mask to help keep your airway open as you sleep. Your doctor will determine the best pressure setting for you based on your unique needs.

Who Uses It?

As with a BiPAP machine, all individuals diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) can use a CPAP machine for treatment purposes. A prescription is required from your healthcare provider as users will have a designated pressure level to allow for adequate treatment. CPAP machines are typically utilized by individuals that are diagnosed with mild to moderate sleep apnea. When deciding which device to use with your doctor, it’s essential to consider that a CPAP machine delivers a steady flow of pressurized air that doesn’t vary in level, unlike the BiPAP machine. There are instances where individuals find varying levels of pressure more manageable and comfortable.

Comparing BiPAP and CPAP Therapy

Patients diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) will likely be prescribed a BiPAP or CPAP machine to manage their symptoms, allow for adequate sleep, and improve their quality of life. Both treatment options provide adequate care and relief for patients but have a few noteworthy differences.

  1. Comfort Preferences: As previously mentioned, many patients have found that the constant flow of the same air pressure can be uncomfortable and make exhaling difficult. If you experience this issue, switching to a BiPAP machine may be beneficial.
  2. Varying Pressure: Unlike a CPAP machine, a BiPAP machine offers patients two pressure settings, a level for inhalation (IPAP) and a level for exhalation (EPAP). Many find the varying pressures to be more comfortable, and those that require some breathing assistance or suffer from a respiratory condition may find relief with a BiPAP machine.
  3. Different User Needs: Patients that suffer from nerve and muscle problems will likely benefit from a BiPAP machine rather than a CPAP machine because of the capability to control breaths per minute (BPM), thus allowing for a more relaxing sleep. CPAP machines are commonly prescribed for those that suffer from mild to moderate sleep apnea and have no underlying health conditions.

It’s encouraged to consider these differences as you’re choosing the best therapy option for your unique needs. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) will likely be with you for life. These treatment machines are available to make your sleep condition manageable and minimize symptoms making it incredibly important for you to choose the most effective device for your health needs.

Next Steps

The first step in improving your sleep quality if you suspect you have a sleep disorder such as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) or upper respiratory resistance syndrome (UARS) is to schedule an appointment with your healthcare provider. Upon scheduling, you will likely be asked to complete a sleep study where sleep technologists will analyze your sleep and a variety of other factors. Your doctor will provide you with further guidance on whether a BiPAP or CPAP machine will provide you with relief after your appointment. Both BiPAP and CPAP machines help manage your symptoms, thus improving your quality of sleep. Still, it’s essential to consider the advantages and disadvantages of both to find the best option for your unique needs.

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