Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder in which patients have breathing problems in their sleep, and some patients report loud snoring and tiredness. The leading cause of sleep apnea in adults is obesity and old age. Obesity, for instance, results in the mouth and throat is soft tissue. This soft tissue then relaxes during sleep, blocking the airway, commonly referred to as obstructive sleep apnea. Most physicians recommend two treatments for sleep apnea; the CPAP and BPAP. Let us have an overview of these two treatments, give their similarities, and finally, their differences.
The CPAP Machine
This is the most preferred sleep apnea remedy. The machine comes in different sizes but is relatively small, depending on where it will be used. If used at home, it can be larger, but a smaller option may also work if one plans to travel with it. A machine generates air pressure through a tube mask fitted over the mouth or nose. The machine provides a regular stream of air hence prevents the patient’s airways from collapsing. Therefore, it is specially designed to ensure that it keeps the airways open by applying pressure to the throat via the nostrils. The physician sets the CPAP pressure to ensure that the patient gets the same pressure throughout the process.
The CPAP therapy is best designed for use by patients that suffer breathing difficulties in their sleep, especially those with Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) because it aids in providing continuous air supply to the lungs. This treatment is also suitable for infants with underdeveloped lungs. They are placed under the CPAP machine to help in regular airflow into their lungs.
The BPAP Machine
The Bi-level/ two-level Positive Airway Pressure (BiPAP/BPAP) is another treatment option for sleep apnea. It also employs the use of a tube mask through the nose, just like the CPAP. As its name suggests, the machine delivers two channels of air passage, inhale and exhale pressure. IPAP is the Inhalation Positive Airway Pressure, while EPAP is the Exhalation Positive Airway Pressure. The BPAP monitors the two pressures of inhalation and exhalation and provides air if the patient is not breathing for a certain period. It is therefore programmed to detect a BPM (Minimum Breaths per Minute) to keep track of the patient’s breathing.
This treatment is suitable for patients who need extra support in their respiration; hence, it is mostly prescribed for heart failure and disorders such as pulmonary and coronary heart diseases. Most of these machines also come with humidifiers to prevent the mucosal membranes from drying up.
BPAP therapy treatment is suitable for patients because it considers both the pressure and the levels of oxygen. It is also the go-to option for a patient’s lung or heart disorders.
Similarities Between the CPAP and the BPAP
Both devices are designed to be of the same compact and portable size with silent modifications so that the patient can sleep comfortably. They also have the same design and attachments that are the masks and the supplies. The main similarity is that they are both the most preferred treatment methods for sleep apnea and other respiratory disorders. They are also similar in their use as they aid in the users’ breathing during sleep.
Differences Between the CPAP and the BPAP
The main difference is that the CPAP is set to a single constant pressure while the BPAP is modified to deliver two pressures, the IPAP to inhale and the EPAP to exhale as discussed earlier. As much as the CPAP treatment is very efficient for OSA, some patients find it difficult to exhale when using it, given that the pressure is set to a constant. This means that if a patient has strong pressure and is trying to exhale the incoming air’s lower pressure, their breathing becomes difficult. To mitigate this, most CPAPs come with an adjustment that allows the pressure to build up slowly by starting on low. This makes users comfortable as it makes inhaling and exhaling more tolerable. Once the required pressure is achieved, it stays constant for the entire night.
The BPAP uses a particular dual way to ease the airflow into and out of the patient’s lungs. However, the CPAP can employ the use of C-Flex technology, a comfortable design that allows relief of 3cm to the air pressure, which comes close to that of the IPAP, which is at 4cm. Even with the C-Flex technology, the two treatments are still different in that the pressure of the CPAP can always drop and vary as the patient breaths while the pressure of the BPAP is maintained.
Besides, the BPAP is not strenuous to use due to its two-way modification of exhaling and inhaling. Most doctors advise the use of BPAP if the patient finds it difficult to use the CPAP. Therefore, it is safe to say that BPAP is more efficient and comfortable for patients than the CPAP.
The CPAP is used mostly to mitigate obstructive sleep apnea while the BPAP treats complex sleep apnea, central sleep apnea, and other congenital heart diseases. The BPAP, therefore, is more complex in its design and use compared to the CPAP.
Above all, these machines need proper maintenance and care for them to work effectively for you. Clean all the components thoroughly at least once a week. Inspect for leaks and replace worn out parts immediately. Change masks and filters more often. Masks and hoses should be replaced for at least three months. Filters also need to be replaced after about 14 days.
Both treatment methods are beneficial to the user in relieving the symptoms of sleep apnea. It is upon the patient to establish which is more effective and convenient to use unless advised by a doctor. Both machines can also be purchased safely and conveniently online under the doctor’s guidance. If both methods are not right for you, you can adopt other alternatives such as Adaptive Servo Ventilation (ASV), a more non-invasive way that treats sleep disorder.