For people with obstructive sleep apnea, choosing the right device to help you breathe at night is important. But with all sorts of devices out there, what kind of breathing aid works best for you? While you should always speak with a specialist before choosing a device, it is important to know the difference between the different types of airway pressure therapy.
Continuous positive airway pressure therapy, or CPAP, is the most commonly used therapy to treat obstructive sleep apnea. When someone is using a CPAP machine, they typically wear a face mask that is connected to the machine itself, which sends a continuous stream of air into the lungs. The CPAP machine uses this mild, constant stream of air to keep the user’s airway open during sleep. Typically, the air pressure is determined by a doctor, so the CPAP user gets the most out of their machine.
Bilevel positive airway pressure therapy, often shortened to BiPAP or BPAP, are used for more than just sleep apnea. For people who have difficulty breathing throughout the day, BiPAP machines can help make breathing easier. People with obstructive sleep apnea, asthma, COPD, or pneumonia may need to use a BiPAP when breathing becomes difficult. Most BiPAP machines come with either nasal plugs or a mask that connect to the ventilator, and when used, the machine works much like a CPAP machine does. However, the air pressure when a BiPAP user breathes in is stronger than when they exhale.
EPAP on the other hand stands for expiratory positive airway pressure therapy, and much like a CPAP machine, EPAP devices are often used by people with obstructive sleep apnea. Unlike a CPAP machine, however, the EPAP only gives the user pressurized air when the user exhales. EPAP devices are also inserted into the nostrils before sleep. The device consists of two-way valves: one valve opens when the user inhales, allowing them to breathe normally. When the user exhales, the valves open the other way. This makes exhaling more difficult, but not enough to keep the user from breathing completely. Since more force is required to exhale, the user keeps their airway from collapsing through the action of the exhale itself.
If you are having difficulty breathing or may be concerned about sleep apnea, speak with your primary care physician. To browse positive air pressure devices that can help you breathe better, visit the Medical Supply Depot.