CPAP vs. BiPAP: Understanding the Usage Differences


As a person dealing with sleep apnea at varying capacities, CPAP and BiPAP come across as some of the more potent treatment options. While both these processes can be attributed to maintaining positive air pressure inside the airway, there are quite a few technical and functional differences between each. However, to understand the differences between CPAP and BiPAP, it is necessary to first understand the functioning of a PAP device and its effects on the breathing levels of the affected individual.

How PAP Devices regulate breathing?

OSA or Obstructive Sleep Apnea, regardless of the severity levels, is a condition that restricts involuntary airflow into the nasal airway, thereby leading to erratic sleeping cycles, night gasping, and breathing difficulties at night. To mitigate these issues, doctors recommend PAP or Positive Airway Pressure devices to facilitate easier breathing by incrementally pushing pressurized air into the concerned air chamber of the body.

However, breathing isn’t only about the inhalation and you also need to breathe out against the pressurized air to ensure that the lungs get requisite levels of oxygen. This is where a BiPAP device comes into the play as unlike a CPAP on Continuous Positive Airway Pressure device, it focuses on something called the Bi-level therapy.

CPAP Issues Addressed

It wouldn’t be wrong to state that a BiPAP device fixes the side-effects and inadequacies of a CPAP device. For instance, if the CPAP pressure for a patient is on the higher side, breathing out can still be a challenge even with the RAMP feature turned on. This means your body doesn’t get the perfect avenue to push the residual air out of the airway.

Moreover, if you are suffering from a more severe version of sleep apnea, exhaling against the singular air stream becomes overwhelming and exceedingly difficult. This is where a BiPAP machine comes into the mix as it comes with a dual-pressure setting i.e. one for assistance during inhalation and the other for exhaling at a lower pressure. Therefore, BiPAP functionality can be further segregated into IPAP and EPAP, depending on the existing functionalities.

Significance of a BiPAP Machine

In case you use a BiPAP machine, it becomes easier to regulate breathing even when you are fast asleep. As there is a two-way pressure regulation to account for, the throat and nasal cavity or airway do not collapse regardless of the process. Therefore, it wouldn’t be wrong to infer that BiPAP usage is way more comfortable than a CPAP.

Besides, a BiPAP machine, unlike a CPAP unit, isn’t meant just for treating OSA. Instead, you can use the Bi-PAP machine if you have lower blood oxygen levels to account for. Moreover, individuals with congestive heart ailments are more likely to resort to Bi-PAP devices followed by patients suffering from neuromuscular and lung disorders.

CPAP and BiPAP: Enlisting the Differences

  1. Pressure Settings

BiPAP machines usually have two assistive pressure settings for helping you exhale comfortably against the pressurized influx of air. CPAPs, on the other hand, bring in the RAMP feature for incremental pressure amplification, thereby giving lungs the time to adapt.

  1. Comfort

In case you are suffering from a severe case of OSA and using CPAP as the go-to machine, consider using an optional humidifier for additional comfort. However, if the pressure increases, involuntary exhalation might be exceedingly difficult to initiate and this is where a BiPAP machine becomes all the more relevant by cutting out gasping and air gulping, completely. As there are two pressure settings to rely on Aerophagia or air swallowing is duly taken care of.  Besides BiPAP machines keep bloating and stomach belching at a fair distance.

  1. Usage

While CPAPs are mostly aligned to sleep disorders and apneas, BiPAP usage takes an all-inclusive form courtesy of the additional perks concerning AHI balance, breathing monitoring, and more.

Which one to Choose?

While CPAP is still a standard choice for OSA or Obstructive Sleep Apnea, BiPAPs are more relevant to other conditions that can compromise the existing blood oxygen levels within the body. Therefore, a Bi-PAP machine targets a centralized form of sleep apnea where the focus is also on addressing strokes and issues related to heart failure.

Regardless of the benefits and perks offered by a BiPAP machine in regard to sleep apnea, ALS, neuromuscular disorders, and more, it is always advisable to consult with a physician for getting the most out of any given machine.,

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