A CPAP machine is a non-invasive device that is commonly used to treat obstructive sleep apnea. The machine connects to a mask that is worn over your nose and/or mouth and pushes air continuously through your airway to keep it open during sleep. There are three types of CPAP devices: CPAP, APAP, and BiPAP.
CPAP stands for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure. CPAP devices provide constant airflow at a specific pressure setting and do not deviate from it. A doctor must perform a sleep study in order to determine which pressure setting is appropriate for your condition.
The APAP machine is more advanced than a standard CPAP machine because it has more features and offers therapy tracking information. APAP stands for Automatic Positive Airway Pressure. APAP devices allow for a wider range of pressure settings and adjust the level of pressure they deliver on a breath by breath basis.
The level of pressure that APAP machines deliver fluctuates throughout the night, depending on your needs. They are designed to deliver the least pressure necessary. Many sleep apnea sufferers find that APAP machines are more comfortable to use than CPAP devices, which are set to deliver the highest amount of pressure necessary in order to keep the airway open. Overall, APAP machines significantly reduce the amount of pressure delivered.
BiPAP stands for BiLevel Positive Airway Pressure. BiPAP machines, which are also called BiLevel and VPAP machines, were developed to combat the problem of patients having to exhale against the extra pressure. Generally, people who are prescribed a high CPAP pressure setting are candidates for BiPAP machines.
BiPAP machines can be set to one pressure for inhaling and another for exhaling. They alternate between these two distinct pressures throughout the night.
When you use a BiPAP machine, you receive the pressure necessary to prevent sleep apnea symptoms when you inhale but you don’t have to suffer the effects of a high pressure level when you exhale. BiPAP machines are particularly suited to those who suffer from lung disease, pulmonary inefficiency, and other conditions that cause breathing difficulty.
You must have a physician's prescription to obtain a CPAP device. Your doctor will advise you on which type of machine and mask best meets your needs. All CPAP equipment must be FDA approved.
To see a sampling of the variety of CPAP machines available, click here.
There are three types of CPAP masks:
Each of these mask types come in different sizes, styles and materials. Therefore, before purchasing, take the time to try on a number of masks to ensure the greatest possible comfort and fit. Some individuals rent CPAP masks and apparatus to try them out before making a purchase decision.