If you are someone who suffers from sleep apnea, or you believe you might have the condition, you’ve probably heard mention of devices including CPAP and BiPAP machines. CPAP machines are the most common, but BiPAP technology works better for some folks. In this guide, we’ll answer common questions about BiPAP machine technology to help you learn more.
What is BiPAP?
BiPAP is an acronym for Bilevel Positive Airway Pressure. It’s also sometimes referred to as BPAP. BiPAP machines serve as a non-invasive treatment for sleep apnea, a common sleep disorder that affects millions of people. BiPAP machines help sleep apnea patients breath at night by keeping pressurized air flowing into their lungs by way of a nasal mask. “BiPAP” can refer to the technology itself, or to a physical machine.
BiPAP and CPAP are similar treatment options, with one main difference – CPAP uses a single pressure setting, while BiPAP uses two pressures; an inhale pressure, and an exhale pressure.
What is a BiPAP Machine?
A BiPAP machine is a prescription medical device that is used to help sleep apnea sufferers get better sleep at night. It consists of a main unit, which pressurizes air, a humidifier, which helps add moisture to the air, a tube, and a mask. Sleep apnea patients who use BiPAP machines will wear a face mask or nasal mask at night, which is connected to the BiPAP unit. Pressurized air flows through the tube and mask, helping the patient breath steadily and get a better night’s sleep.
Visually, there is little difference between BiPAP and CPAP machines. Both feature the same basic design and attachments. Again, the main difference is simply in how the machine regulates air pressure.
What are the BiPAP Benefits?
Patients who have been diagnosed with sleep apnea may experience the following benefits from BiPAP therapy:
- Better sleep quality
- Reduced snoring
- Reduced daytime sleepiness/fatigue
- Improved focus
- Better moods
- Lower blood pressure
- Decreased risk of serious medical conditions
- Generally work better than CPAP for patients with high pressure settings
Who Uses BiPAP Machines?
BiPAP machines are prescribed to patients who have been diagnosed with sleep apnea. BiPAPs are prescription medical devices, which means you can only buy one if you have a valid prescription from your doctor.
Most of the time, CPAP machines will be recommended for initial use, as most patients respond well to CPAP therapy. Those who are unable to benefit from CPAP therapy will sometimes switch to BiPAP. In some cases, BiPAP therapy will be recommended right off the bat – particularly in situations where a patient is prescribed a very high pressure setting, or if the patient has a lung disorder or a history of cardiopulmonary disorders.
In some cases, BiPAP machines will also be used to treat medical conditions other than sleep apnea – such as COPD, pneumonia, asthma, etc.
How Can I Learn More?
This guide is meant to answer the simple question of what is BiPAP to give you a basic understanding of the technology. With that said, there’s a lot more to learn if you’re a sleep apnea patient looking into treatment options. For some recommended reading, check out:
- Our introduction to CPAP
- Our list of alternatives to CPAP
- Our comparison of CPAP vs BiPAP
- The MedLine Plus guide to sleep apnea
You should also be in contact with your doctor about treatment options. Most of the time, you will be referred to a specialist in the respiratory and sleep science field.
Last but not least, if you have inquiries beyond the simple what is BiPAP technology type of questions, feel free to leave a comment or send us an email!