Difference Between BiPAP and CPAP Machines for Sleep Apnea - Treatment

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I think you will agree with me when I say it has always been a difficult task for us to figure out the difference between BiPAP and CPAP Machines for Sleep Apnea.

Sleep apnea is a growing health concern worldwide. It can occur when the upper airway becomes blocked repeatedly during sleep, reducing or completely stopping airflow. This is known as obstructive sleep apnea. If the brain does not transmit the signals needed to breathe, the condition may be called central sleep apnea.

Healthcare providers use sleep studies to diagnose sleep apnea symptoms. They record the number of episodes of slow or stopped breathing and the number of central sleep apnea events observed in an hour. They also check whether oxygen levels in the blood are lower during these scenarios.

Breathing devices such as continuous positive air pressure (CPAP) machines and lifestyle modifications are common sleep apnea treatments. Undiagnosed or untreated sleep apnea can lead to serious complications such as heart attack, glaucoma, diabetes, cancer, and cognitive and behavioural disorders.

What Makes BiPAP Different from CPAP Machines for Sleep Apnea?

For the most part, BMC Auto CPAP RESmart GII with Humidifier machines have been the go-to treatment for obstructive sleep apnea. CPAP machines (such as BMC CPAP machine) deliver a steady, continuous stream of pressurized air to patient's airways to prevent them from collapsing and causing apnea events. After a CPAP titration study, your sleep technician and doctor will determine the pressure settings for your CPAP machine and set the machine to deliver that exact amount of pressure continuously.

CPAP machines can only be set to a single pressure that remains consistent throughout the night. However, many CPAP machines have a ramp feature that starts off with a lower pressure setting and gradually builds to the prescribed pressure. This comfort feature simply makes the pressure at the beginning more tolerable and less immediate, once the pressure builds to the required setting, it stays at that setting for the rest of the night.

What is BiPAP Machine Good For?

One of the complaints about CPAP devices is that some patients find the constant singular pressure difficult to exhale against. For patients with higher pressure strengths, exhaling against the incoming air can feel difficult, as if they're having to force their breathing out.

BiPAPs can also be set to include a breath timing feature that measures the amount of breaths per minute a person should be taking. If the time between breaths exceeds the set limit, the machine can force the person to breath by temporarily  increasing the air pressure.

The main difference between BiPAP and CPAP machines for sleep apnea is that BiPAP machines have two pressure settings: the prescribed pressure for inhalation (ipap), and a lower pressure for exhalation (epap). The dual settings allow the patient to get more air in and out of their lungs.

The most used BMC BiPAP and BMC CPAP machines available are following;


Who Would Benefit from BiPAP Therapy?

  • BiPAP machines are often prescribed to sleep apnea patients with high pressure settings or low oxygen levels.
  • BiPAPs are often used after CPAP has failed to adequately treat certain patients.
  • BiPAPs can be helpful for patients with cardiopulmonary disorders such as congestive heart failure.
  • Often prescribed to people with lung disorders or certain neuromuscular disorders.

Why Not Use CPAP with C-Flex Instead of BiPAP?

C-Flex is similar to BiPAP therapy in that it offers pressure relief as the patient exhales so that they don't feel like they're fighting against the incoming airflow during expiration. However, C-Flex is more of a comfort feature for CPAP machines that only offers pressure relief up to 3 cm, whereas BiPAP pressure relief starts at 4 cm and goes up. For those who need only a little pressure relief, a CPAP with C-Flex might be the right choice.

Another difference between BiPAP and CPAP with C-flex is that the pressure relief from C-flex is not a fixed amount, and the pressure drop can vary from breath to breath, whereas the BiPAP maintains a set, prescribed exhalation pressure. 

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How To Control and Treat  Sleep Apnea Condition:

If you are diagnosed with sleep apnea, your doctor may make recommendations to help you maintain an open airway during sleep. These could include healthy lifestyle changes or a breathing device such as a positive airway pressure (PAP) machine, mouthpiece, or implant. Talk to your doctor. Depending on the type and severity of your sleep apnea and your needs and preferences, other treatments may be possible.

Healthy Lifestyle Changes:

To help control or treat your sleep apnea, your doctor may recommend that you adopt lifelong healthy lifestyle changes.

  • Make heart-healthy eating practices: This also includes limiting your alcohol intake, especially before bedtime.
  • Fitness and Workout activity.
  • Target for a healthy weight: Research has shown that losing weight can reduce sleep apnea in people who were also diagnosed with obesity.
  • Develop healthy sleeping habits: Your doctor may recommend general healthy sleep habits, which include getting the recommended amount of sleep based on your age.
  • Quit smoking: Visit Smoking and Your Heart and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute’s Your Guide to a Healthy Heart [PDF 2.9MB]. Although these resources focus on heart health, they include basic information about how to quit smoking. For free help and support to quit smoking, call the National Cancer Institute’s Smoking Quitline at 1-877-44U-QUIT (1-877-448-7848).

Breathing Devices (CPAP vs BiPAP):

A breathing device, such as a CPAP machine, is the most commonly recommended treatment for patients with sleep apnea. If your doctor prescribes a CPAP or other breathing device, be sure to continue your doctor-recommended healthy lifestyle changes.


Mouthpieces, or oral appliances, are typically custom-fit devices that you wear while you sleep. There are two types of mouthpieces that work differently to open the upper airway. Some hybrid mouthpieces have features of both types.

  • Mandibular repositioning mouthpieces are devices that cover the upper and lower teeth and hold the jaw in a position that prevents it from blocking the upper airway.
  • Tongue retaining devices are mouthpieces that hold the tongue in a forward position to prevent it from blocking the upper airway.

Your doctor may prescribe a mouthpiece if you have mild sleep apnea or if your apnea occurs only when you are lying on your back. To get your mouthpiece, your doctor may recommend that you visit a dentist or an orthodontist, a type of dentist who specializes in correcting teeth or jaw problems. These specialists will ensure that the oral appliance is custom fit to your mouth and jaw.

Implants for Sleep Apnea:

Implants can benefit some people with sleep apnea. Some devices treat both obstructive and central sleep apnea. You must have surgery to place an implant in your body. The Food and Drug Administration has approved one implant as a treatment for sleep apnea. The device senses breathing patterns and delivers mild stimulation to certain muscles that open the airways during sleep. More research is needed to determine how effective the implant is in treating central sleep apnea.

A nerve stimulator can also treat sleep apnea. This treatment also involves surgery. A surgeon will insert a stimulator for the hypoglossal nerve, which controls tongue movement. Increasing stimulation of this nerve helps position the tongue to keep the upper airway open.

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Therapy for Mouth & Facial Muscles:

Children and adults with sleep apnea may benefit from therapy for mouth and facial muscles, known as orofacial therapy. This therapy helps improve tongue positioning and strengthen muscles that control the lips, tongue, soft palate, lateral pharyngeal wall, and face.

Surgical Procedures for Sleep Apnea:

You may need surgery if you have severe obstructive sleep apnea that does not respond to breathing devices such as a CPAP machine, or that is caused by visible obstruction to the upper airway, perhaps due to large tonsils. Possible surgical procedures include:

  • Tonsillectomy External: a surgery to remove the tonsils, which are organs located at the back of your throat.
  • Maxillary or jaw advancement: A surgery to move the upper jaw (maxilla) and lower jaw (mandible) forward, to enlarge the upper airway.
  • Tracheostomy: A surgery to make a hole through the front of your neck into your trachea, or windpipe. A breathing tube, called a trach tube, is placed through the hole and directly into your windpipe to help you breathe.

If surgery is considered as a possible treatment, talk to your doctor about the different types of surgical procedures, the risks and benefits of the procedures, potential discomfort, and the recovery time you will need after surgery.

Using and caring of your breathing device or mouthpiece:

It is important that you properly use and care for your prescribed breathing device or mouthpiece. If your doctor prescribed a breathing device or CPAP machine:

  • Be patient with your breathing device or CPAP machine: It may take time to adjust to breathing with the help of a CPAP machine.
  • Use your breathing device or CPAP machine for all sleep, including naps: To benefit fully from your treatment, you should wear your device whenever and wherever you sleep. If you are traveling, be sure to bring your breathing device with you. Call your doctor or sleep specialist right away if your device stops working correctly.
  • Talk to your doctor or supplier if you experience discomfort or have difficulty using your prescribed breathing device: Let the team or supplier know if you are having irritation from the mask, if your mask is not staying on or fitting well, if it leaks air, if you are having difficulty falling or staying asleep, if you wake with dry mouth, or if you have a stuffy or runny nose. Your doctor can explore options to improve the treatment, such as trying different masks or nasal pillows, adjusting the machine’s pressure timing and settings, or trying a different breathing device that has a humidifier chamber or provides bi-level or auto-adjusting pressure settings. Cleaning the mask and washing your face before putting your mask on can help make a better seal between the mask and your skin.
  • Properly care for your breathing device or CPAP machine: Know how to set up and properly clean all parts of your machine. Be sure to refill prescriptions on time for all of the device’s replaceable parts, including the tubes, masks, and air filters.
  • Properly care for your mouthpiece: If you were prescribed a mouthpiece, ask your dentist how to properly care for it. If it does not fit right or your signs and symptoms do not improve, let your dentist know so that he or she can adjust the device. It is common to feel some discomfort after a device is adjusted until your mouth and facial muscles get used to the new fit.

Work with your doctor to figure out the best treatment plan for you. Your individual symptoms will help your doctor decide on therapies and make personalised recommendations.

When exploring your options, ask your doctor:

  • What is the best therapy for me?
  • Are there any alternatives?
  • Will I need to use this daily, periodically? Is it a temporary or permanent solution?
  • What kinds of lifestyle changes can I make to improve my symptoms?
  • Will insurance or Medicare cover this?

Ultimately, the therapy you choose will depend on the effect that your lung function has on you and what methods will best get the air you need to your lungs.

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Further Reading:

FAQs about Fetal Heart Rate Monitoring

What is channel ECG machine?

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