Medical Illnesses CPAP's and BiPAP's Are Appropriate For

Both the CPAP machine and BiPAP machine are used to assist someone to breathe better. These machines are basically used for the same illnesses, and work much in the same way. There is one main difference in these two machines, which is what makes them different.

What is CPAP and who uses it?

CPAP stands for continuous positive airway pressure. These machines are designed to deliver air to the user while he or she is sleeping. The continuous pressure forces air into the lungs and prevents the tongue or other parts of the airway to occlude the flow of oxygen. These machines are widely used by patients who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea.

In addition to sleep apnea, which is the most common application for a CPAP machine, patients who have COPD or asthma, one of the illnesses that COPD encompasses, can benefit from this machine. In addition, patients who suffer from coronary artery disease and heart failure benefit from use of the CPAP because these illnesses also affect breathing.

What is BiPAP and who uses it?

BiPAP stands for bi-level positive airway pressure. This machine is much like the CPAP but when the patient exhales, the machine does not continue to deliver the same amount of oxygen. As a patient inhales, the machine is triggered and forces air into the lungs, as the CPAP machine does. When the patient exhales, the forced air decreases greatly. BiPAP can be used for sleep apnea, to ensure the airway stays open during inhalation, which forces air into the lungs.

BiPAP is also used for patients who are suffering from acute respiratory failure, regardless of the reason. BiPAP machines are used in the emergency setting for these patients in order to keep the lungs supplied with oxygen. BiPAP is not invasive and is used prior to using a ventilator, in hopes that the patient will begin to breathe on his or her own.

One other application for the BiPAP machine is for patients who suffer from some sort of neuromuscular disease. For patients that get progressively worse, breathing may become an impossibility because the muscles that control breathing no longer function properly. The BiPAP machine is used with these patients in order to allow them to breathe independently for as long as possible.

In the hospital setting, BiPAP machines are used for patients who are suffering from a collapsed lung or severely compromised lung function, such as those patients with COPD, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Why are the CPAP and BiPAP Machines Different?

Although these machines can be used for many of the same illnesses, they are unique in their own way. The CPAP machine delivers continuous pressure the entire time it’s being used, whereas the BiPAP machine only delivers air to the patient on inhalation. This difference makes a big difference with some patients.

Technically speaking, the CPAP machine is set at different levels, based on the needs of the patient. This machine delivers between four and 16 cm H2O constantly, while the BiPAP machine delivers between 20 and 30 cm H2O on an alternating basis.

The CPAP machine was introduced to the medical community in the early 1980’s while the BiPAP machine was not created until the 1990’s.

Regardless of which machine is used, they both work to achieve the same end result: to assist the patient with breathing difficulties. One machine works by delivering continuous pressurized air while the other works by delivering different levels of pressurized air. Both of these machines are used for medical purposes, although the BiPAP machine can be used in a wider variety of medical settings.


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