Sleep apnea is a disorder characterized by the constant interruption of normal breathing while sleeping. When a patient experiences an “apnea” their breathing stops for a prolonged period of time. Some patients, after overcoming the apnea, will experience a hperpnea, which is rapid shallow breathing to compensate for the lack of oxygen experienced during the apnea. One treatment for sleep apnea is the use of a bilevel positive airway pressure machine, or BiPAP for short bipap.
The function of a BiPAP machine is to provide positive air pressure to the patient to prevent the collapse of tissue in the throat, which would cause an apnea. In this way, BiPAP machines function similarly in purpose to a CPAP machine. However, a BiPAP machine administers two levels of pressure: an inspiratory positive airway pressure (IPAP) for when the patient inhales and an expiratory positive airway pressure (EPAP) for when the patient exhales. This is so the patient experiences less resistance to exhalation that is present in CPAP machines, which administer a constant pressure during inhalation and exhalation alike. Though the functioning of the machines differ, the use of the machines are almost identical.
A typical Bilevel positive airway pressure machine machine is set up in a similar manner to a CPAP machine: hoses are attached from the machine to a delivery device such as a face mask or nasal pillows, which are then secured to the patient in a way that allows pressure to build. Once the mask is secured, the pressure builds and prevents the patient’s airway from collapsing by increasing the pressure during inhalation and lowering the pressure during exhalation.
The settings on a Bilevel positive airway pressure machine machine are configured by a doctor or technician that has received the results from a sleep study that monitored the severity of the disorder and calculated the optimal pressure to administer through the machine. Because the Bilevel positive airway pressure machine machine comes preconfigured, the patient is not required to make any adjustments or complete any advanced setup options to use the machine.