CPAP or BiPAP? You Have Options

by Americare Respiratory Services

If you are one of the 18 million people that suffer with sleep apnea, chances are you are using a CPAP or BiPAP machine. Both of these machines are helpful in controlling and reducing the effects of sleep apnea, but what is the difference between them? And which one is better? Well here’s the scoop.

First, a little refresher on sleep apnea.  Sleep apnea effects many people and can be a life threatening condition. Sleep apnea is defined as pauses in breathing, or shallow breathing during sleep that reoccur several times throughout the night. These pauses can be followed by a choking or snorting sound and is usually accompanied by loud snoring. All of this is disruptive to your sleep and can leave you with sleep deprivation issues such as low concentration, excessive sleepiness and tiredness. 

The CPAP and BiPAP are breathing machines that use positive air pressure (PAP) delivered by way of an air mask over the mouth or nose or both. This positive air pressure keeps the air ways open while you sleep which is useful in controlling and reducing the pauses in breathing and snoring. This results in a good night’s sleep. So what’s the difference between the two machines? CPAP stands for continuous positive air pressure, meaning the air that flows from the machine into the mouth or nose is at a prescribe amount of pressure, continuously. Some people find it difficult to exhale against this pressure if the pressure is too high. It may be uncomfortable or hard to get used to, which could lead to abandoning the therapy. Some CPAP devices have a ramp-up feature which slowly increases the air pressure while you drift into a deep sleep. BiPAP, or bi-level positive air pressure machine, has two pressure settings. The inhaling pressure is set at a higher rate than the exhaling pressure, which feels more natural. The exhaling pressure is low enough to allow you to exhale easily and comfortably.

Which one is better? That is a decision that should be made with the help of your sleep doctor based on your particular condition. Not all patients are candidates for BiPAP. 

The most important thing is to see a sleep doctor or professional if you are having disruptive sleep symptoms or are overweight or have a family history of sleep apnea. Untreated sleep apnea can have serious consequences on your health such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease, just to name a few. Sleep apnea is best diagnosed by doing a sleep study with a trained sleep professional, and treatment is most often the use of a CPAP or BiPAP machine.

Everyone’s situation is different and the treatment should be designed to work best for your individual needs and that’s where Americare Respiratory Services can really help. This is our specialty. We are the nation’s number one choice for CPAP or BiPAP equipment and supplies. With our Care Plus Program you will have a personal Care Specialist assigned to you and they will submit all the required paperwork to help get your CPAP or BiPAP machine, mask, and supplies as quickly as possible. The goal is to give you ongoing support and unsurpassed service.

For more information on CPAP or BiPAP machines or symptoms of sleep apnea check out our sleep education library.