Sleep Apnea Machines: Should You Switch From CPAP To BPAP?

If you suffer from sleep apnea, using a CPAP machine can be a highly effective way to minimize your symptoms. These machines help to keep your airways open while you sleep, preventing the interruptions in your breathing pattern that sleep apnea can cause. However, while CPAP machines are one of the most popular treatment aids for sleep apnea, they are not your only option.

What Are BPAP Machines?

CPAP stands for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure, and is so called because the pressurized air they generate is always at the same pressure level. This stream of pressurized air enters your mouth, nose, and throat, preventing your airways from collapsing and interrupting your breathing.

BPAP stands for Bilevel Positive Airway Pressure. They work on the same basic principles as CPAP machines but are a little more complicated. A BPAP machine delivers highly pressurized air while you are breathing in, but lowers the air pressure when you breathe out. 

Some BPAP machines are fitted with sensors, which detect when you are breathing in and out and adjust the machine's air pressure accordingly. Others are fitted with timers, which alternate between higher and lower air pressures at set intervals to keep you breathing at a steady rate.

Should You Switch From CPAP To BPAP?

Because BPAP machines are more complicated and specialized than CPAP machines, they are generally more expensive and can be more difficult to maintain. If you are already getting significant benefits from using a CPAP machine while you sleep, switching to a BPAP machine may be unnecessary.

However, if you already use a CPAP machine, but are still suffering significant symptoms of sleep apnea, you may find more relief by switching to a BPAP system. If your sleep apnea is severe and causes breathing interruptions that last for a long time, BPAP machines may be more effective at keeping your airways open than CPAP machines.

You may also find switching to BPAP beneficial if you suffer from other conditions that interfere with your sleep and/or breathing. Conditions such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD), and congestive heart failure can alter your breathing patterns and make CPAP machines less effective. 

BPAP machines can also be useful if you have difficulty getting comfortable and/or falling asleep while using a CPAP. Because BPAP machines lower air pressure when you exhale, many people find it easier to breathe out using a BPAP than a CPAP. If difficulty breathing out while using a CPAP is keeping you awake or causing anxiety, BPAP may be worth the switch.

If your CPAP machine isn't treating your sleep apnea as effectively as it should, you should visit a sleep apnea treatment clinic as soon as possible for a consultation. The trained medical professionals working at these clinics can assess your needs using breathing measurement apparatus and sleep studies, and determine whether you might benefit from switching from CPAP to BPAP.

For more information on sleep apnea treatment, contact a professional near you.