When it comes to Sleep Apnea solutions, there are three core treatment options. However, one of the most asked questions in the PAP world is: What exactly is the difference between CPAP therapy and BiPAP therapy?
While your sleep specialist will prescribe you with a treatment method and PAP machine that is best suited to your Sleep Apnea diagnosis, there is no harm in educating yourself on the main similarities and differences between these therapies. The more you know, the better, right?
In this article, we are going to introduce you to both BiPAP therapy and CPAP therapy. Whether you are completely new to treating Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) or not, understanding the uses of each of these Sleep Apnea treatments can be beneficial in understanding more about your diagnosis and your treatment plan.
There are two core types of Sleep Apnea: Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) and Central Sleep Apnea (CSA). Most individuals that are diagnosed with this sleep disorder will fall under the OSA category and severity can range from mild to severe.
Any form of Sleep Apnea treatment aims to prevent a person from experiencing apneic events while they are sleeping. During an apneic event, the muscles in the throat begin to relax causing a full or partial blockage of the airway passage. When a blockage occurs, not enough oxygen is getting to either the lungs or the brain. This causes a jerking reaction waking a person up.
Sleep Apnea solutions counteract this by delivering positive airway pressure via a PAP machine and mask to a patient while they sleep. This prevents the airway from closing and makes sure that the patient can achieve a night of undisrupted sleep.
Below, we walk you through two ways that this positive airway pressure can be delivered as part of treatment.
Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy is considered as the gold standard for Sleep Apnea treatment. It is by far the most popular form of treatment for OSA and it isn’t hard to see why. Many patients that are prescribed CPAP therapy notice a huge improvement in their sleep quality provided they stay compliant with therapy.
As the name suggests, CPAP delivers a constant level of airway pressure and is set at a single pressure level by a sleep specialist. Following the core guidelines of PAP therapy, a CPAP machine will deliver this consistent stream of air to a patient while they sleep to reduce and prevent apneic events.
CPAP as a sleep disorder treatment is most commonly used for treating OSA (as we’ve already mentioned) and other breathing disorders that disrupt sleep quality including Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome (UARS) and severe cases of snoring.
Many patients who use CPAP therapy note an improvement in a number of symptoms such as daytime fatigue, headaches, memory loss and insomnia.
If you have been prescribed a CPAP machine based on the results of your polysomnography test, then we have good news for you. Below is a list of some of our best-selling and most loved CPAP machines. From brands such as ResMed and Philips Respironics, we are sure that you’ll find a machine that matches your needs and price point.
The ResMed AirMini is a portable and travel-friendly CPAP machine that is favourite among many CPAP users. Known for being the world’s smallest CPAP machine, it provides easy-to-use and comfortable sleep therapy no matter where you are in the world.
Philips Respironics DreamStation CPAP Pro
The Philips Respironics DreamStation CPAP Pro offers a sleek, patient-driven design. With in-built Bluetooth and WiFi capabilities, this PAP machine is one of the most technologically advanced on the market.
BiPAP therapy, which is also known as BiLevel Positive Airway Pressure therapy or VPAP therapy, differs as a form of Sleep Apnea treatment in the sense that it doesn’t offer the patient just one consistent airway pressure level.
While the basic goal of BiPAP is the same as CPAP, to keep an individual’s airway open while they are sleeping, its application and uses are slightly different.
A BiPAP machine and mask looks very similar to that of its CPAP counterparts, however, how it delivers positive airway pressure is the true difference. BiPAP therapy works by delivering two set pressure levels: inspiratory positive airway pressure (IPAP) and expiratory positive airway pressure (EPAP).
Oftentimes, an OSA patient may struggle getting used to a single pressure level or will need extra respiratory support. If this is the case for you, your sleep specialist will determine what your ideal IPAP and EPAP settings will be. But what exactly are these settings?
IPAP and EPAP settings were created to replicate a more natural breathing rhythm. The IPAP setting is set at a higher pressure level as it needs to be able to support your breathing while inhaling and ensure you get enough oxygen into your lungs. EPAP, however, is set at a lower pressure level to help you breathe more comfortably while exhaling.
Not only is Bilevel PAP therapy beneficial for treating OSA but it can also help in the treatment of other serious sleep disorders. Oftentimes, BiPAP therapy will be recommended to those individuals who need a higher PAP level that CPAP machines can’t provide.
Additionally, it is recommended for those individuals who suffer from breathing disorders such as obesity hypoventilation syndrome (OHS), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or Overlap syndrome and Complex Sleep Apnea.
Monster CPAP also sells a range of ResMed and Respironics BiPAP machines. Below we have listed two of our best-selling BiPAP machines: ResMed AirCurve 10 and the Respironics DreamStation BiPAP Pro.
The ResMed AirCurve 10 BiPAP Auto machine is a self-adjusting bilevel machine that combines Easy-Breathe technology with an Autoset algorithm to provide comfortable and great quality therapy. The AirCurve 10 BiPAP machine adjusts the baseline pressure to hold the airway passage open and providing greater pressure support to a patient.
Philips Respironics DreamStation BiPAP Pro
While it may look identical to the CPAP equivalent that we spoke about earlier in this article, Philips Respironics also supplies the machine in a BiPAP automatic setting. With two pressure levels, this machine will monitor and adjust pressure levels on a breath by breath basis. It will increase air pressure to the prescribed IPAP level once it detects an apneic event happening. Otherwise, the machine will deliver a lower pressure level.
Both of these Sleep Apnea solutions are designed with their own specific purpose. And depending on your particular diagnosis, it is your sleep specialist that will determine which therapy option is best suited to treat your symptoms.
CPAP vs BiPAP machines may not look too different in person or on paper but they offer small differences that can make a huge impact on your treatment. If you are struggling to tolerate CPAP therapy, then speak with your physician about trying BiPAP therapy instead.
There is no one Sleep Apnea therapy that is better than the other. They both offer great benefits to those who need them and they both succeed in their goals: providing effective relief from Sleep Apnea symptoms.