What is Sleep Apnea?
It is estimated that over 18 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea, which is a sleep disorder in which breathing stops and starts repeatedly.
There are three types of sleep apnea:
- Obstructive Sleep Apnea
- Central Sleep Apnea
- Complex Sleep Apnea Syndrome
Obstructive sleep apnea, the most common type, occurs when the throat muscles intermittently relax, causing the upper airway to become blocked repeatedly during sleep or airflow to be stopped completely. The most noticeable sign of obstructive sleep apnea is excessive loud snoring and abrupt awakenings accompanied by choking or gasping.
Other signs and symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea include:
- Excessive daytime sleepiness
- Loud snoring
- Observed episodes of stopped breathing during sleep
- Abrupt awakenings accompanied by gasping or choking
- Awakening with a dry mouth or sore throat
- Morning headache
- Difficulty concentrating during the day
- Experiencing mood changes, such as depression or irritability
- High blood pressure
- Nighttime sweating
- Decreased libido
Treatment and Solutions | BiPAP vs. CPAP
Obstructive sleep apnea is typically treated with either a CPAP or BiPAP machine. A Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine uses a hose and mask or nosepiece to deliver constant and steady air pressure. A BiPAP, also known as BPAP or Bilevel Positive Airway Pressure, has a very similar design to CPAP, but offers a more “non-invasive” fit. The BIPAP is typically suggested for those who have trouble using a CPAP, due to the constant high-pressure flow oxygen. BiPAP’s keep the airway from collapsing and allow users to breathe easily and regularly during sleep but allow for the patient to exhale more easily and breathe more comfortably.
The main difference between BiPAP and CPAP devices is that BiPAP machines have two pressure settings: one pressure for inhalation (IPAP), and a lower pressure for exhalation (EPAP).
The BiPAP machine is designed to increase the pressure when you inhale to keep the airways in the nose and throat from closing while you are sleeping and provide a lower pressure during exhalation that continues to maintain an open airway. Many patients find BiPAP more comfortable than the single pressure delivered by CPAP machines.
BiPAP may also be used for patients who require some breathing assistance. BiPAP has been prescribed for patients who have congestive heart failure and other serious diseases affecting the heart and lungs.
People with nerve and muscle problems may better benefit from the BiPAP machine rather than the CPAP machine. BiPAP machines can be set to make sure that users breathe a set number of times per minute. The difference in inhalation and exhalation pressures reduces the work of breathing and allows the person to have a more restful sleep. These are some reasons BiPAP machines are sometimes used as a treatment method when CPAP has failed to adequately treat their sleep disordered breathing.
The CPAP machine is usually used to treat mild to moderate sleep apnea. Depending on the severity of sleep apnea, doctors may recommend a BiPAP machine instead. Patients requiring high levels of CPAP pressure are often more comfortable using BiPAP.
Mac’s Medical Equipment & Supplies carries both BiPAP and CPAP machines and accessories, and our friendly staff are available to answer any questions or concerns you might have about the equipment.