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Should You Be Using a CPAP or BiPAP For Your Sleep Apnea?

Should You Be Using a CPAP or BiPAP For Your Sleep Apnea?


You might have come across this article since you are looking for a noninvasive way to treat your sleep apnea.

Well, you’re in luck since CPAP/BiPAP machines are the most popular treatment course against sleep apnea. If you need a faster course of treatment for your sleep apnea, this is one treatment route that you should consider.

You may be wondering, ‘Should I use a CPAP or BiPAP machine for my sleep apnea?’

The answer to your question is found in the article below.

What is a CPAP machine and when is it used?

Patients with sleep apnea are often prescribed to undergo CPAP therapy. For CPAP therapy, patients are recommended to get CPAP machines that allow for mild air pressure to help eliminate breathing problems. With the use of CPAP machines, the airway of sleep apnea patients won’t collapse while sleeping. This type of machine is often recommended for patients with obstructive sleep apnea.

CPAP is a noninvasive treatment that is proven to be effective against obstructive sleep apnea. According to WebMD, CPAP machines operate in this manner, ‘The machine has a pump that controls the airflow, a tube that carries the air from the machine to you, and a mask that goes over your mouth, nose, or both.

It is important to seek treatment when a person is diagnosed with OSA because your airway is being blocked when you sleep. As a result, there could be long pauses in your breathing when you sleep. With a CPAP mask and machine, the airway remains open without any obstructions during breathing.

CPAP Therapy – Pros and Cons

Some of the positive results of undergoing CPAP therapy are the improvement of sleep quality and the elimination of snoring. Other patients have also reported a reduction of sleepiness during the day and improved attentiveness in the daytime. Despite the benefits of CPAP therapy, there are also some common problems faced by CPAP patients like having a dry, stuffy nose.

Depending on the type of mask, others may feel claustrophobic. The most common issue of CPAP patients is that they find it hard to get used to wearing the mask, which is why they often can’t maximize the benefits of the mask. There are three types of CPAP masks, which are the full face mask, nasal pillow, and nasal mask. Each of these masks has its own benefits and disadvantages.

What is BiPAP and when is it used?

There are other patients that can’t tolerate forced air, especially since the CPAP machines deliver air with a single air pressure setting.  For patients that have difficulty tolerating forced air, physicians would normally recommend the bilevel positive airway pressure machine or BiPAP machines. However, CPAP treatment would precede the BiPAP treatment for sleep apnea.

The BiPAP machine operates at two alternating levels, which means that the pressure is different for when one exhales and when one inhales.  While it is generally pricier than the CPAP, BiPAP machines allow for auto-adjustment of the pressure settings based on the change of the user’s breathing pattern.

BIPAP machines have five basic components, which are the motor, the hose, the mask, the air filter, and the humidifier. The BiPAP motor pressurizes the air in the room and delivers the air via the hose to the patient’s mask. The air filter operates to block dirt and pollutants from coming into the machine, while the humidifier enables easier breathing to keep the temperature of the air at a tolerable level and prevents nasal dryness. The last two components can either be integrated into the machine or attachable.

What do IPAP and EPAP mean?

If you are using a BiPAP machine, you are familiar with IPAP [inspiratory positive airway pressure] and EPAP [expiratory positive airway pressure]. To simplify these concepts, IPAP is the pressure setting used when one inhales and this setting is normally higher when compared to the EPAP. On the other hand, EPAP is the pressure applied when one exhales and it is normally lower because the lungs work at a lower pressure.

As a general recommendation, patients should start with an IPAP setting of 10 to 15 cm H20. However, the maximum setting should be at 20 to 25 cm. On the other hand, the EPAP setting should begin at 4 to 5 cm H20 and the maximum setting should be at 10 to 15 cm. In terms of incremental change in the pressure, patients should set the increase at 2 cm H20 maximum.

Once your condition has improved, the pressure setting can be reduced or you can do the treatment less frequently depending on the recommendation of your attending physician.

What is the function of a BiPAP machine?

Patients with CPAP intolerance can rely on BiPAP machines. The most common reason why patients can’t undergo CPAP therapy is the singular pressure setting, which makes it hard to breathe. Since BiPAP machines operate with an alternating level of pressure setting, the breathing process becomes more natural. It also helps improve the gas exchange since it encourages the body to get enough oxygen while clearing enough CO2 in the process

What is the difference between a CPAP machine and a BiPAP Machine?

The main difference between a CPAP machine and a BiPAP machine is the pressure settings. CPAP machines operate their pressure setting in a unilateral manner that remains consistent throughout its use. Newer CPAP machines may have a ramp feature, which allows the build-up of air pressure. The ramp time is when the therapy pressure begins to increase until the prescribed pressure is reached.

On the other hand, a BiPAP machine enables two alternating levels, IPAP and EPAP, which can be adjusted when needed. This means that a BiPAP machine will have a different setting when one inhales and when one exhales. If the physician prescribes a different setting for inhalation and exhalation, the BiPAP machine can surely help the patient to breathe better.

When it comes to pricing, the CPAP machine is a lot cheaper than the BiPAP machine. Based on the current market price, the BiPAP machine is double the price of a standard CPAP machine. This is because the BiPAP machines have more features than a standard CPAP machine.  Another notable difference is that there are CPAP machines that come in a travel size, but BiPAP machines are usually big and bulky.

Both machines are used to treat patients with sleep apnea, but it is important to get a prescription before making any purchase. Moreover, both CPAP BiPAP machines require proper maintenance and cleaning in order to operate at their maximum level.

Should you be using a CPAP or BiPAP machine for your sleep apnea?

Before being prescribed a CPAP BiPAP titration, patients should have undergone the standard CPAP therapy first. CPAP machines work better for patients with mild to moderate sleep apnea. Another condition that may require the use of a CPAP machine is the Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome or UARS, which is a condition that may develop from obstructive sleep apnea.  

When your physician decides that it is time to move forward with a BiPAP machine, it simply means that you’re not able to tolerate CPAP treatment or you need a higher level of treatment. This is why BiPAP machines are used to treat more severe cases of sleep apnea. According to helpmedicalsupplies, BiPAP is also recommended for patients with:

  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD)
  • Obstructive sleep apnea
  • Obesity hypoventilation syndrome
  • Pneumonia
  • Asthma flare-up
  • Poor breathing after an operation
  • Neurological disease that disturbs breathing

Is BiPAP better than CPAP?

While BiPAP is generally a higher level of the standard CPAP machine, there can’t be a superior machine per se. First, the machine to be used is determined by the needs of the patient. Some patients are recommended to get BiPAP therapy due to the severity of their sleep apnea. However, some patients find relief in CPAP treatment.

“Regardless of the type of sleep apnea machine you use to get a quality night’s rest, they all serve the same basic purpose: preventing the collapse or blockage of your upper airway while you’re asleep. This ensures that you’ll be able to breathe properly and not experience interruptions to your sleep.

Here’s the bottom line:

When it comes to the BiPAP machine, there is no one-size-fits-all. It still depends on the needs of the patient and this is why you should consult with your physician to check which machine you should be using. It is also important to practice sleep apnea exercises, work on lifestyle changes, and use the machines consistently.

If you already have a prescription from your doctor, you can begin to shop for your BiPAP sleep apnea machine by clicking this link.:


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