Sleep Apnea 101
What Is a CPAP/BiPAP/APAP Machine?
What Is a CPAP Machine?
A CPAP machine is a ventilation device used to treat sleep apnea. CPAP stands for continuous positive airway pressure and it works by sending a continual stream of air through your airway. The passage of this air stream keeps your airways open. The airflow is generated in the base unit of the device and travels through a tube to a mask that either inserts into your nose or covers both your mouth and nose. The air then travels into your airway and clears any blockages as it goes, allowing you to breathe freely throughout the night.
What Is a BiPAP Machine?
Another type of ventilator used to treat sleep apnea and other breathing disorders is a BiPAP machine, also known as a bi-level positive airway pressure machine. It’s similar to a CPAP machine in that the base unit produces an airflow that is sent through a tube connected to a mask and into your mouth or nose to promote easy breathing.
CPAP vs BiPAP Machine
Where the BiPAP machine differs from a CPAP machine is in the airflow settings. In a BiPAP machine, there are two settings: inspiratory positive air pressure (IPAP) and expiratory positive air pressure (EPAP). A BiPAP machine produces an air flow with stronger pressure when you inhale and then lowers the pressure when you exhale.
What Is an APAP Machine?
An APAP machine, or auto-adjusting positive airway pressure machine, is also a ventilator that is used to treat sleep apnea. Just like a CPAP and a BiPAP machine, there’s a base unit with a motor that generates the airflow, which then goes through a tube into a mask. The airflow keeps the airways open and pushes through any blockages that may occur.
APAP vs CPAP vs BiPAP Machine
The airflow in an APAP machine automatically adjusts throughout the night. While a BiPAP machine has two levels, one for inhaling and one for exhaling, and a CPAP is the same amount of pressure continuously, an APAP machine will adjust on its own to what it senses your pressure needs are.
What Are the Downsides of Using a CPAP/BiPAP/APAP Machine?
All three machines function in a similar way and therefore all have the same downsides.
CPAP/BiPAP/APAP Machines Are Bulky
Firstly, the machine is bulky, around the size of a toaster. This takes up space on your nightstand and can be cumbersome to travel with.
CPAP/BiPAP/APAP Are Uncomfortable
Secondly, you have to sleep wearing a mask. There are different types of masks depending on your needs. Some only insert into your nose while others cover your entire lower face, including your mouth. These masks may require headgear in order to properly stay on. Using a CPAP, BiPAP, or APAP machine means having to wear uncomfortable and bulky headgear while you sleep.
CPAP/BiPAP/APAP Machines Are Noisy
Thirdly, these ventilators are also noisy. There’s a motor in the base unit that produces the airflow. This motor can generate noise during the night that might keep you or your partner awake. Sleep apnea does interrupt your sleep, but the ventilator used to treat the condition may not actually help you to sleep.
What Is the Alternative to a CPAP/BiPAP/APAP Machine?
A custom oral appliance, or COA, is an alternative that solves the problems of a ventilator like a CPAP, BiPAP, or APAP machine. A COA fits in your mouth like a retainer and is custom-made to fit your teeth so that it’s not uncomfortable. There’s no machine or motor that can make noise while you sleep and it’s small so it’s easy to transport.
How Does a Custom Oral Appliance Treat Sleep Apnea?
Instead of clearing blockages in the airway with a stream of air coming from a machine, a COA instead prevents those blockages from occurring in the first place. The custom oral appliance does two things. First, it keeps your airways open by positioning your lower jaw further forward. Secondly, it prevents your tongue and the muscles in the back of the throat from collapsing into the airway and blocking it.
Are You Using a CPAP Machine?
Contact us for a custom oral appliance, a more comfortable alternative.
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