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Sleep Apnea Treatment – CPAP or BiPAP?

Sleep apnea is a sleeping disorder that causes the sufferer to have brief periods where they stop breathing when they sleep. This disorder is fairly common and many people don’t even realize that they are suffering from it. They just know that they are tired regardless of how much sleep they get. They also get complaints about snoring or snorting in the middle of the night. Many times, these complaints are the only reason a victim of sleep apnea seeks help at all.

The severity and cause of your sleep apnea determines the treatment you receive. Sometimes the treatment is as simple as an appliance fitted by your dentist that you wear at night to help keep your mouth in a position that keeps the airway open. If you live near Hilliard, Ohio, Mark Levy, DDS can help you with your sleep apnea problem. Call him at (614) 777-7350.

Sometimes your sleep apnea case is too severe for simply an appliance or you may need an appliance in addition to an alternate treatment. If that’s the case, your physician may prescript a CPAP machine or a BiPAP machine to augment your treatment.

What is a CPAP Machine and How Does it Affect Sleep Apnea?

CPAP stands for continuous positive air pressure and that is what it provides. A CPAP machine produces a continuous air flow at a pressure determined by your sleep study. This pressure keeps the airway open to help you breathe at night. It is the most common treatment for sleep apnea and it quite successful.

The problem with CPAP machines for some people is that the continuous pressure that keeps the airway open also makes it difficult to exhale. The air pressure is high even when you are not having trouble breathing. This can make these machines uncomfortable and makes it less likely that you will follow the treatment protocol. If you use the C-Flex option for your CPAP machine, it automatically adjusts the air pressure, but can only make the adjustments within a narrow measurement. That means that even the adjustment isn’t sufficient to help your breathing and your sleep apnea problem is not solved.

Introducing the BiPAP Machine

To solve this problem the BiPAP machine was developed. BiPAP stands for bipositive air pressure. What this means is that this machine has two pressure settings; one for incoming air and one for outgoing air. It can also be set to time your normal breaths and when your breathing exceeds the measured time between breaths, the BiPAP machine forces a breath by increasing the air pressure.

If you have sleep apnea that requires a high pressure setting or you have low oxygen levels, then the BiPAP machine will probably be prescribed for your sleep apnea. You may also be shifted to a BiPAP machine if the CPAP machine does not correct your sleep apnea as expected. If you have congestive heart failure or other respiratory conditions, the continuous air pressure may not work for you as some respiratory conditions prevent proper exhalation. The continuous pressure would be detrimental in these cases. The ability to change the pressure relative to the exhalation of a breath would be beneficial to the sleep apnea treatment.

How Are They the Same?

The CPAP machine is portable and comes with a length of hose that attaches to the mask. Some have integrated humidifiers while others have them as an optional attachment. The CPAP machine helps your sleep apnea by forcing air into your airway to prevent it from collapsing during the night and obstructing your sleep. Many also have a ramp feature that gradually increases the pressure to make it more comfortable as you go to sleep.

The BiPAP machine works in the same fashion as the CPAP machine to treat your sleep apnea symptoms. It is portable and has a hose that attaches to the mask. It also uses positive air pressure to keep your airway open, but it is not a continuous stream of air like the CPAP machine uses. It has an exhalation and inhalation level for air pressure. BiPAP machines also have ramps to slowly raise the pressure and they have integrated humidifiers or optional ones should you choose that route.

Some BiPAP machines also have a CPAP mode should that become necessary and like some CPAP machines will automatically adjust the pressure should your sleep apnea require it. Both machines record the sessions for review by medical personnel which helps them to determine if you are following the treatment protocol and also signals whether the treatment protocol is working as expected. Which machine is the right one to treat your case of sleep apnea is left to the professionals. Your doctor will prescribe the machine that is best for your sleep apnea treatment.

If you think you have sleep apnea, then you should contact Mark Levy, DDS at (614) 777-7350 for an evaluation and possible referral to a sleep center.