July 07, 2020

BiPAP vs CPAP: Differences & Similarities

BiPAP vs CPAP: Differences & Similarities


The Earth, though evolved and advanced in modern times, is still plagued by various life-threatening diseases and microorganisms. 

 Yet, over centuries, humans have found ways and methods, with thorough research, to find significant medicines and cures.

 Similarly, to combat the various Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Diseases (COPD), the use of BiPAP and CPAP has been recommended by doctors all over the world.

 This article will be dealing with various questions related to COPD, Sleep Apnea, the use of BiPAP, the use of CPAP, and most importantly, BiPAP vs CPAP.

 Before you read about BiPAP vs CPAP, it is essential to know the reason this medication therapy started.

What is COPD?

COPD, commonly known as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, is a common type of lung disease.

 The more common forms of COPD are Emphysema and Bronchitis. These diseases are more prevalent among smokers but are also common among non-smokers.

 Some of the common symptoms are:

  • Excessive Coughing
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing

 Most of the symptoms are related to overall inefficiency in breathing.

 COPD does not have a proper cure, but the overall effect can be reduced through the following steps:

  • Medication
  • Anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Oxygen therapy
  • BiPAP/CPAP therapy

    What is Sleep Apnea?

    Sleep Apnea is a sleep disorder in which the sleeping person is unable to breathe properly.  If you feel like your sleep is disturbed or you snore loudly and feel tired even after a sound sleep, you might need to look out for Sleep Apnea.

     It is typically of 3 types-Obstructive Sleep Apnea, Central Sleep Apnea, and Complex Sleep.

     Some of the common symptoms involve:

    • Intense snoring
    • Headache
    • Dry mouth
    • Insomnia
    • Hypersomnia
    • Breathlessness while sleeping

     Treatment involves:

    • CPAP/BiPAP
    • Oral Appliances
    • Airway pressure instruments

     Therefore, BiPAP and CPAP are the two most common relieving methods used for the treatment of COPD as well as Sleep Apnea.

    Sleep apnea at the doctors office.


    BiPAP - Bilevel Positive Airway Pressure

    BiPAP is one of the most efficient methods to tackle respiratory diseases and breathing problems.

    BiPAP is a type of respiratory machine which aids you in breathing properly and increases the overall respiratory efficiency.


    Philips Respironics DreamStation BiPAP Auto Machine

    How Does It Work?

    It works in the following manner:

    • When you breathe normally, the lungs expand due to the diaphragm. This helps in decreasing the pressure inside your lungs. Applying a little Science, we can see that the oxygenated air moves from high pressure (environment) to low pressure (lungs).
    • In respiratory diseases, this mechanism does not work as efficiently as it does in a healthy person, leading to a low oxygen level in the blood-stream and eventually, to sickness.
    • BiPAP machines help in the maintenance of pressure and thus in fulfilling the body’s oxygen demand.
    • It pushes the pressurized air into your system.
    • This is known as positive pressure ventilation as it helps in opening up your lungs with the pressurized air.

      Why Is it Necessary and What Are the Benefits?

      BiPAP therapy is absolutely necessary for people suffering from respiratory diseases, be it COPD or Sleep Apnea. The below points will give you an idea about its use:

      • This machine provides sufficient oxygen to give relief to your worked up lungs and chest.
      • It makes it easier to breathe, especially at night, as it helps in opening your airways for the efficient and required exchange of Oxygen and Carbon Dioxide.
      • Improved quality of life and survival in COPD patients.
      • Treats breathlessness.

        Features to Look Out for in BiPAP Machine

        BiPAP machines come with a lot of benefits and features. Here are a few of them.

        • Several settings are available - Certain BiPAP machines give you many options concerning time-settings and pressure.
        • Easy connectivity through Bluetooth - With the Bluetooth feature, it is easy to connect as well.
        • Detection of Apnea events - BiPAP machines also help in keeping track of sleep hours, Sleep Apnea events, and other important information.
        • Works as per the patient’s breathing patterns - BiPAP machines analyze the breathing pattern of the patient and thus adjust and customize the therapy. It also has a ‘ramp’ feature which helps the patient to get used to this therapy. In this, the machine starts at a lower pressure and gradually increases it to the prescribed level. 
        • Leak detection - If there’s a fault in the structure of the machine, it may lead to leaking. To avoid this, there’s a leak detection feature that helps in identifying the problem.


            BiPAP does not have serious side effects or limitations. There are a few minor ones which are listed below.

            • Discomfort due to tubes and mask.
            • Dry nose
            • Congestion
            • Bloating of stomach
            • Irritation in eyes

            All in all, BiPAP is an effective machine to give you relief and comfort if you have respiratory discomfort.

            Along with BiPAP, other methods like CPAP, VPAP, and APAP are also currently in use for different healthcare problems.

            Let’s take a look at CPAP therapy.


            CPAP - Continuous Positive Airway Pressure

            Just like BiPAP, CPAP is also used for the treatment of respiratory diseases and Sleep Apnea.  Yet some underlying differences are given in the next segment.

            CPAP is one of the most beneficial therapies for patients suffering from Apnea or any other pulmonary disease. It helps in protecting your airways and tissues from collapsing.

            It aids people who do not have efficiency in breathing. CPAP pressure therapy is also given to newborns with underdeveloped lungs.


             CPAP Machine Resmed Airsense 10 Autoset

            How Does It Work?

            Your CPAP machine works in the following ways:

            • Through tubes, this machine gives a constant supply of pressurized air.
            • The mask you wear maintains a single pressure airflow and leads it through your airways.
            • The continuous flow of air into your respiration system makes sure that the tissues do not collapse.
            • This way it helps in easy breathing and respiration.

              Why is it necessary?

              It is important to know that CPAP, BiPAP, etc., are just treatments and not the proper cure. If you’re advised by the doctor to continue this therapy, you should not hesitate.

              Other than this main reason, there are various other reasons for its necessity.

              • Keeps your airways open properly
              • Reduces snoring
              • Good quality sleep
              • Treats high blood pressure problems
              • Reduces sleepiness throughout the day

                Features to Look Out For In CPAP machine

                Whenever you wish to buy a CPAP machine, consider the following features for easy CPAP therapy.

                • Noise-free for undisturbed sleep - Some CPAP machines might be noisy. If you want to avoid this, try to find a noise-free CPAP machine that will help you sleep peacefully. (Try our Phillips Respironics Dreamstation Auto CPAP)
                • Leak detection - CPAP machines also come with leak detection which helps in replacing them.
                • Humidifier for reduced dryness - Both BiPAP and CPAP machines have a humidifier to reduce dryness in your airways. (Try our ResMed Airsense 10 with HumidAir)
                • Portability of the machine - CPAP machines are easy to carry if you wish to travel.
                • Comfortable mask - Consult your doctor for the mask which fits your face structure the best to avoid complications and discomfort.
                • Records detailed information - Sleep Apnea events, change in pressure, etc


                    A CPAP machine does not have a lot of disadvantages but there are some which are easy to overcome.

                    • Discomfort due to the CPAP mask
                    • Disturbed sleep
                    • Dry or stuffy nose
                    • Noise
                    • Leaky instrument
                    • Skin/eye irritation

                    Now that you are aware of both therapies, let’s talk about the differences between them.


                    What Is The Difference Between BiPAP vs CPAP

                    BiPAP vs CPAP

                    BiPAP and CPAP both are hugely recommended by doctors for various illnesses. However, there are certain differences between both of them.

                    These dissimilarities depend upon the below factors:

                    • Type of illness
                    • Cost
                    • Working mechanism
                    • Comfort
                    • Portability
                    • Monitoring

                      Type of Illness:

                      While BiPAP and CPAP are equally good for treating Apnea, they are better suited for one type than the other. BiPAP is good for Central and Complex Apnea, while CPAP is the best option for Obstructive Sleep Apnea.


                      CPAP devices are cheaper than BiPAP devices. According to the American Sleep Apnea Association, while CPAP devices cost about $185 to $5000, they are cheaper than BiPAP devices.

                      BiPAP devices start around 3000$ which can get expensive for the patients.


                      Working Mechanism

                      The major difference between CPAP and BiPAP lies in their working mechanisms.

                      The inspiratory pressure, also known as inspiratory positive airway pressure (IPAP), is higher than expiratory or exhalation pressure. Thus, the increased pressure outside the airways helps in letting in the air more easily.

                      However, the expiratory pressure, also known as expiratory positive airway pressure (EPAP),  is a bit lower. Thus, as the pressure is lower than usual outside, it makes it easier to exhale the air comfortably.

                      But in CPAP, both the inspiratory air pressure as well as expiratory air pressure is the same.



                      BiPAP as well as CPAP machines, if chosen nicely, provide good comfort to patients.

                      However, as BiPAP has two pressure settings, many people find it more comfortable than CPAP.

                      As CPAP has only one pressure setting, it can get a little hard to breathe in or out.



                      As CPAP machines are lighter and less complicated than BiPAP, they are easy to carry around. On the other hand, BiPAP machines are usually best in hospital/home scenarios.



                      In a CPAP machine, you can just adjust your setting and leave it. While in a BiPAP machine, it is required to monitor the delivered pressures.

                      These are a few major differences between BiPAP and CPAP. Mostly, they work the same way, and it all depends on such factors as your illness, comfort, and price range.

                      Be sure to consult your doctor to ask for a sleep study and get your breathing device as per your convenience.


                      Written by The Sleeplay Team

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