CPAP is an acronym that stands for continuous positive airway pressure. It is a form of therapy used for people who have obstructive sleep apnea. Sometimes the continuous pressure of CPAP is uncomfortable for the person using it. If that happens, BIPAP may be an alternative.
Though BIPAP therapy is similar to CPAP and will get the same results for the sufferer using it, it does have some differences. CPAP therapy gives one constant pressure for both inhalation and exhalation when breathing. BIPAP has two settings, instead of a constant one. When a person breathes in the pressure is higher and when they exhale, it is lower.
Some patients have difficulty with the pressure of CPAP Masks, especially when exhaling, so BIPAP can be a solution for that.
Another difference between BIPAP and CPAP is that BIPAP is used to treat more than just obstructive sleep apnea. Some BIPAP machines can be set to give a person a breath. This would be used with central sleep apnea or complex sleep apnea, when the patient is having apneas because the brain signal does not make it to the chest muscles properly.
It is also a good device for a person with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). People with COPD have low oxygen levels during the night when they sleep. Their lungs are stressed. A BIPAP unit can help them to breathe more comfortably, while also sustaining their oxygen levels at a normal percentage.
Some of the new BIPAP machines have a feature called Biflex. This is a comfort setting which provides a smoother transition from the end of inspiration to the beginning of expiration.
Complications from BIPAP are similar to those of CPAP. There may be mask discomfort. It is crucial to find the best fitting mask or sores may develop at certain pressure points on the mask.
Bloating from swallowing air can be another complication, but does not happen very often.
Your doctor can help decide which form of PAP therapy will be best for you by taking your history and the results of your tests into consideration.
If you think you may have sleep apnea, you can avoid long term complications by seeking out a sleep disorders physician and being tested. The sooner you start your therapy for sleep apnea, the less likely you will be to develop other health problems associated with it.