How does a BiPAP machine function and what is its use in treating sleep apnea?

A BiPAP machine is a compact, easily operated device that assists a person with the chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD) to breathe. When using a BiPAP machine, a person takes in pressurized air through a mask to regulate their breathing pattern while they are asleep or when their symptoms flare.

COPD can make it more difficult for a person to take in air as their lungs are often less elastic, and so they may find it much harder to breathe deeply, and their lungs can fill with mucus. A BiPAP machine can help push air into the lungs. The machine supplies pressurized air into a person’s airways. It is called “positive pressure ventilation” because the device helps open up the lungs with this air pressure.

What’s a BiPAP machine?

BiPAP refers to Bilevel or two-level Positive Airway Pressure. It can help treat sleep apnea by sending air through a tube into a mask that fits over the nose. While CPAP generally delivers a single pressure, BiPAP delivers two: an inhale pressure and an exhale pressure. These two pressures are known as inhalation positive airway pressure (IPAP) and exhalation positive airway pressure (EPAP).

How Does It Work?

BiPAP machines have two settings and the effort when inhaling and exhaling is monitored. When a person sleeping doesn’t breathe for a programmed period of time, the BiPAP may be set to deliver a breath. This is set as a minimum breath or ‘back-up rate’ that sets minimum breaths per minute (BPM). This setting is designed so that the patient breathes a set frequency of breaths per minute.

Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a set of sleep disorders that trigger frequent pauses in breathing during a person’s sleep. The most common type is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), which occurs due to throat muscle constriction.

Sleep apnea can transpire from a brain signal issue that inhibits proper breathing. Complex sleep apnea syndrome is not as commonly found, and it means that a person has a combination of obstructive and central sleep apnea. These sleep disorders are potentially life-threatening if left untreated. Healthcare providers often recommend breathing machines to help patients get the crucial oxygen that they may be missing at night.

How does BiPAP help?

Breathing machines are hooked up to a mask that the person wears over their nose and mouth. The machine delivers pressure to help their muscles relax so they can breathe. This is called positive airway pressure (PAP) therapy. There are three main types of machines used in the treatment of sleep apnea: APAP, CPAP, and BiPAP.

An auto-adjustable positive airway pressure (APAP) machine is known for its ability to offer different pressure rates throughout a person’s sleep, based on how you inhale. The continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) unit is also a prescribed machine for sleep apnea.

CPAP delivers a steady pressure rate for both inhalation and exhalation. Unlike APAP, which adjusts the pressure based on a person’s inhalation, CPAP delivers one rate of pressure throughout the night. The same pressure going in and going out may not work for all sleep apnea cases. In such cases, a bi-level positive airway pressure (BiPAP) machine can help. BiPAP works by delivering different pressure rates for inhalation and exhalation.

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