Sleep Apnea Treatment: CPAP vs. BiPAP
Posted: May 17, 2022
Sleep apnea is a health condition that makes you stop breathing or breathe shallowly during the night. This can cause oxygen deprivation as well as sleep fragmentation, both of which can have huge negative impacts on your health. Sleep apnea can increase your risk for health problems like high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and metabolic syndrome. That’s why it’s essential to get treatment for your sleep apnea. There are many options for sleep apnea treatment to help you sleep better and improve your health. Two popular options include CPAP and BiPAP therapy. In this article, we’ll discuss these two treatment options and when they may be a good fit for you.
Types of Sleep Apnea Treatment
There are many types of treatments available if you have sleep apnea. Everyone is different, so one sleep apnea treatment option may work better for you than another. For instance, some people can reduce apnea events to healthy ranges by making lifestyle changes like losing weight, quitting smoking, and exercising more regularly. Some people with mild forms of sleep apnea may benefit from positional therapy. Positional therapy is where you train yourself to stop sleeping on your back, which can exacerbate obstructive sleep apnea.
However, by far the most popular option for sleep apnea treatment is Positive Airway Pressure (PAP). Two commonly prescribed PAP solutions for sleep apnea sufferers are CPAP and BiPAP.
For both CPAP and BiPAP therapy users, our team provides ongoing monitoring for your sleep apnea treatment to ensure your continued comfort and sleep health. We provide technologically advanced devices that actually transmit data to our sleep team. Our team monitors the information from your CPAP or BiPAP device to ensure your treatment is working. If needed, we can also make adjustments remotely based on the sleep doctor’s recommendation. So, there’s often no need to come into the clinic for changes to your treatment plan. We believe in providing truly comprehensive care for our patients, so you can get a sleep apnea diagnosis, PAP device, and treatment optimization all under one roof.
Now, you may have heard of CPAP and BiPAP sleep apnea treatment solutions. However, you might wonder how they’re different and which one is right for you. Of course, you should talk to our doctors about your specific circumstances, but it helps to have some general knowledge on these two options.
What is CPAP Therapy for Sleep Apnea Treatment?
CPAP stands for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure. This treatment option uses pressure in your airways to reduce how often you stop breathing or breathe shallowly due to sleep apnea. Essentially it involves a device that uses compressed air to keep your airways open and send air into your lungs. The pressurized air travels through medical-grade tubing and into the nasal pillows or small mask, whatever is more comfortable for you.
CPAP therapy uses one level of pressure throughout the night for sleep apnea treatment. Our sleep doctor prescribes the initial recommended pressure setting for CPAP based on your sleep test results and other information from your health assessment. As part of our treatment monitoring services, we may optimize the pressure based on data about how well you’re sleeping.
What is BiPAP and How is it Different from CPAP?
BiPAP, also sometimes known as BPAP, is really similar to CPAP therapy. BiPAP stands for Bi-level Positive Airway Pressure. While CPAP therapy provides positive airway pressure at one consistent pressure level, BiPAP actually provides two pressure levels: one for inhale and one for exhale. Using these two pressure levels can reduce how much work your body must do to breathe.
BiPAP devices look really similar to CPAP and use much of the same technology. Like a CPAP device, you will receive the air pressure through a hose and a mask or through nasal pillows if you prefer. The device is also typically about the size of a lunch box. Like with CPAP therapy, our sleep doctor prescribes the two pressure levels for your sleep apnea treatment with BiPAP. However, you can generally expect the inhale pressure to be much higher than the exhale pressure.
How the BiPAP device alternates between these two pressure levels depends on the specifics of your treatment program. Some devices use special sensors to determine when you’re breathing in and when you’re exhaling. However, sometimes our doctors may recommend alternating between the inhale and exhale pressure on a specific time sequence. This depends on many different factors of your health and sleep apnea.
When is it Better to Use CPAP for Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea treatment with CPAP is by far the most popular option. CPAP is generally regarded as the gold standard of treatment for sleep apnea sufferers. CPAP therapy is typically the go-to option to treat people with obstructive sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common form of sleep apnea. This is where your airways narrow and close off when you sleep, obstructing the flow of air to your lungs.
Most insurance policies cover CPAP devices and accessories for people with sleep apnea. This is because they are an effective sleep apnea treatment option for most people and it’s one of the most common PAP devices. They also tend to cost less than BiPAP devices.
Another important difference between CPAP and BiPAP is that CPAP devices typically come in a variety of sizes. They can range from about the size of a lunch box to ultra-portable travel devices that you can carry in one hand. This is another potential treatment benefit of CPAP therapy for patients.
When is it Better to Use BiPAP for Sleep Apnea Treatment?
However, CPAP therapy isn’t the best option for everyone. There are many people who need BiPAP therapy instead for their sleep apnea or for other health conditions. BiPAP therapy is commonly prescribed for central sleep apnea. Central sleep apnea is where your brain doesn’t send the proper signals to your body to breathe while you sleep.
You may also be better suited for BiPAP therapy if you have other health conditions where you need more support to breathe properly, like congestive heart failure, COPD, or ALS. Another reason our providers may prescribe BiPAP is if you can’t tolerate CPAP therapy.
One of the biggest complaints of CPAP therapy is that the pressure can make it hard to exhale. While most people adjust to this quickly after starting CPAP therapy, for some people they can’t get used to it. In these cases, BiPAP may be better because it reduces the pressure from the device on exhalation. You will still likely have an adjustment period with a BiPAP device, but it may be more comfortable if you don’t like wearing the CPAP device because of the lower exhalation pressure.
Another important thing to note about BiPAP therapy is that these devices can often provide higher inhalation pressure than CPAP devices. For people who need moderate to high airway pressure, this may be a better option, as these higher pressures may make it difficult to breathe out with a CPAP device. For example, typically you will use a BiPAP device if you need pressure levels of 15 cm H2O or higher for sleep apnea treatment.
Potential Drawbacks of BiPAP Therapy
Keep in mind that BiPAP devices do often feature more sensors and features, so they tend to be more expensive. They can cost about twice as much as a CPAP device. Also, right now the devices typically don’t come in as small of sizes as travel CPAP devices.
In addition, many insurance companies also cover BiPAP devices if your doctor prescribes them. However, it’s important to note that some insurance companies do require proof that you cannot tolerate CPAP before they will cover the costs for a BiPAP device for sleep apnea.
Low T Center – Your Men’s Health Clinic
Our men’s health clinic is here to help you feel your best. We can assess you for sleep apnea and offer customized treatment plans to help you improve your sleep and overall health. Our team takes a holistic approach to health care for men. Our team may recommend a mix of lifestyle changes and sleep apnea therapies to help you breathe better at night. We can also help address other underlying health conditions that affect your well-being. Buy a home sleep test today to be delivered right to your door to test for sleep apnea or make an appointment to visit one of our convenient locations today!
Disclaimer: This article is made available for general, entertainment and educational purposes only. The opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect those of Low T Center. You should always seek the advice of a licensed healthcare professional.