CPAP vs BiPAP vs APAP: How These Forms Of Sleep Apnea Treatment Differ

If you’ve just been diagnosed with Sleep Apnea then your head may be spinning with all the new information that you are learning. That is understandable. The diagnosis in itself may be a shock so having to learn about the different forms of Sleep Apnea treatment can be a lot for anyone to digest. 

That’s why we are here to help. In this article, we are going to discuss the three core PAP therapies that a sleep specialist may prescribe as part of Sleep Apnea treatment. These are CPAP therapy, BiPAP therapy and APAP therapy. 

Treating Sleep Apnea With PAP Therapy: Understanding Each Type

When it comes to CPAP vs BiPAP vs APAP therapy to treat the symptoms of Sleep Apnea, you may be wondering what’s the difference between them and which one is right for you. While they are all different in how they deliver positive airway pressure (PAP) therapy, their end goal is the same - to improve sleep quality. 

While you don’t have a choice in the kind of PAP therapy that is best suited to treat your Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), educating yourself on each type will help you to become more confident and comfortable with Sleep Apnea treatment. 

What Is CPAP Therapy? 

Often considered as the golden standard for Sleep Apnea treatment, CPAP therapy is one of the most commonly referred to forms of treatment for OSA. Known as continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy, this form of treatment works by delivering a continuous and gentle flow of pressurized air to a patient while they sleep, preventing their airways from collapsing. 

CPAP therapy is delivered using a motorized device that pressurizes air that is taken from the patient’s bedroom. The pressurized air is then delivered to the patient through tubing that is connected to the patient’s CPAP mask. Your sleep specialist will determine the pressure setting that is needed on your CPAP device. This pressure level is determined by the results of your titration and sleep study. 

You may be prescribed this form of sleep therapy for a number of the following reasons:

  • You have been diagnosed with mild to moderate Obstructive Sleep Apnea
  • You have the sleep-related breathing disorder, Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome (UARS)
  • You show signs of chronic snoring which could develop into a Sleep Apnea disorder

CPAP therapy is noted as being remarkably effective and helps to improve both your sleep and health almost immediately.  

BiPAP Therapy: How Does This Treat Sleep Apnea?

BiPAP therapy, also known as Bi-level positive airway pressure, shares similar uses to CPAP and APAP therapy but its settings are different. 

What makes this form of Sleep Apnea treatment unique is the fact that it has the ability to provide dual pressure levels to patients while they sleep. These are IPAP which is used during inhalation and another lower pressure called EPAP for exhalation. 

EPAP which is used on exhalation offers a lower pressure level making it more comfortable to breathe out. IPAP, on the other hand, is set at a high-pressure level to ensure breathing is supported when inhaling. This dual pressure function matches a person’s breathing pattern more naturally. 

In cases where an individual doesn’t tolerate the single continuous air pressure level provided by CPAP, a sleep specialist may prescribe BiPAP therapy. This form of Sleep Apnea treatment is often considered to be more comfortable for adapting to treatment due to the fact that it offers alternate pressures. 

APAP Therapy: What Is This Form Of Therapy?

Lastly, there is automatic positive airway pressure (APAP) or Auto CPAP therapy. Many Sleep Apnea patients around the world have turned to this form of treatment over the years and have praised it for its effectiveness and ease of use. 

Unlike CPAP therapy which delivers a single pressure level, APAP therapy instead focuses on providing patients with a range setting that allows airway pressure levels to adapt to their breathing style more readily. 

Your sleep specialist will prescribe a maximum and minimum air pressure setting based on the results of your sleep study. Based on these settings, your APAP device will then automatically adjust pressure levels while you sleep to counteract any sleep apnea events. 

Its main difference from both CPAP and BiPAP is its ability to adapt to a patient’s varying breathing needs and patterns instantly to ensure that therapy is comfortable. While your sleep specialist will determine whether you are suited to this form of treatment, you may also be a candidate if the following applies to you: 

  • You switch sleeping positions often and move around frequently during the night
  • Sleep apnea events occur most during REM sleep
  • You regularly suffer from sinus infections or allergies 

Getting Started With Sleep Apnea Therapy? We Can Help 

While the Sleep Apnea machines that are involved as part of each of these Sleep Apnea therapies all look the same, when it comes to CPAP vs BiPAP vs APAP there are small differences that make a huge difference to how your Sleep Apnea will be treated. 

As we noted above, in most cases you won’t get a choice as to which therapy will be best at treating your symptoms. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t understand all the similarities and differences between each therapy option to understand the rationale behind your prescribed therapy more. 

Regardless of which form of Sleep Apnea treatment you were prescribed, our experts at MonsterCPAP can help you when getting started with Sleep Apnea therapy. As vendors of Sleep Apnea equipment, we work with you to ensure that the equipment you buy is suited to your prescribed therapy and will give you the best chance at improving your sleep health and quality. 

Have questions about CPAP, BiPAP or APAP equipment? Get in touch with us today and we’ll be happy to answer any of your queries.


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