BiPAP vs CPAP: Differences, Pros and Cons

When a person suffers from sleep Apnea, it means that the patient experiences shortage or complete shut of breath briefly. This can occur a few times or several times depending on if the user’s sleep apnea is chronic or not these shortages of breath can occur 5-100 times in an hour. These interruptions, can lead to health issues, such as restless sleep, chronic day time drowsiness, heart dieses and stroke. CPAP, is the abbreviated form of continues positive airway. This is a form of positive airway ventilation which pushes mildly pressured air constantly, into the users airway to prevent it from collapsing. BiPAPs and CPAPs can also be used for snoring patients.

BiPAP, is currently the preferred form of positive airway pressure because, its airflow has been set to mimic that of its users breathing. Its ability to switch continuously between two pressure settings, distinguishes it. It has the ability to deliver high pressure, when the user in inhaling and a lower airflow pressure when exhaling. Its steady flow of oxygen enriches the blood and allows for more efficient means of “blowing off” of excess carbon dioxide and this function is not performed effectively by CPAP

BiPAPs ability to shift airflow pressures, makes it preferred a patient, with CPAP takes much longer to exhale and their inhalation is short and quick.

In 2012 a study in Egypt, showed that BiPAP, is advanced compared to other treatments (such as oxygen supplementation and CPAP) in correcting the sleep challenges of patients suffering from sleep apnea. Following BiPAP therapy, blood levels improved, carbon dioxide levels normalised and patient spent less time in the intensive care following acute respiratory failure.

Complications from using BiPAP machines are similar to those associated with CPAP. However, it is advised to use CPAP for patients with central apnea.

Comparison of Best BiPAP Machines

 IntelliPAP BiLevel S Machine
IntelliPAP Auto BiLevel
Philips Respironics DreamStation BiPAP Pro
Philips Respironics DreamStation Auto BiPAP
Warranty3 Years3 Years2 Years2 Years
110 VoltageYesYesYesYes
220 VoltageYesYesYesYes
Integrated Battery----
Optional DC CableYesYesYesYes
IPAP3 - 25 cm3 - 25 cm4 - 25 cm4 - 25 cm
EPAP3 - 25 cm3 - 25 cm4 - 25 cm4 - 25 cm
CPAP ModeYesYesYesYes
Auto Adjusting Pressure-Yes-Yes
Exhale Pressure ReliefYesYesYesYes
Auto Alt. Adj.YesYesYesYes
Heated HumidifierOptional Optional DreamStationDreamStation
Leak CompensationYesYesYesYes
Auto On/OffYesYesYesYes
Hr/Session RecordingYesYesYesYes
Data CardYesYesYesYes
Weight2.7 LB2.7 LB2.94 Lbs2.7 LB
Weight w/Humidifier/Case6 Lbs6 Lbs4.37 Lbs6 Lbs
Size w/Humidifier6.8" x 6.5" X 8.4"6.8" x 6.5" X 8.4"11.7" x 7.6" x 3.3" 6.8" x 6.5" X 8.4"

What is CPAP

How does CPAP machine work?

Continues positive airway pressure therapy (CPAP) is the use of a machine that helps a person who has sleep apena by continually pushing air gently into the user’s airway to prevent airway collapse when they breathe. The machine is easy to use and comprises of three major parts and they are:

The CPAP body:  This part is the main power house of the CPAP machine. This part function, by sucking in room temperature air then passes it through a removable filter which screens out particles and impurities, then it pressurises the air to the specific pressure that has been set in order to prevent the user’s airway collapse. Some CPAP machines, come with little water tanks to provide humidified air to prevent irritations for the user such as dried mouth and dried nasal cavity.

The CPAP hose: This part is what carries the pressurised air to the user form the body. Though the diameters of hoses may vary, based on model of machine used, the length is the same in most models, at 6 feet.

The CPAP mask: CPAP masks, comes in different shape sizes and types because not every person would comfortable with the same type of mask. While they may differ in shape and sizes to fit different types of faces, there are majorly three types, we have:  Nasal pillow, Full face mask, Nasal mask.

Advantages of CPAP

CPAP is the most effective way for treating sleep apnea or snoring. It keeps your air way passage open, which prevents pauses in breathing and helps the user breathe easier and sleep better. Patients, who use CPAP regularly, would notice significantly less fatigue throughout the day, users who suffered from excessive day time sleepiness, have significantly felt less.

Patients, who use CPAP, tend to have more energy when they get up in the morning due to a good night’s rest.

Disadvantages of CPAP

CPAP users have complained on the fixed pressure. They compare the difficulty in exhaling as trying to breathe with your head out of the window from a car moving at 90 mph. it is difficult exhaling with the pressure from the machine.

Users, complain of the size of the machine and how it is difficult to travel with it (hence the creation of Mini CPAP).

Many users are not comfortable wearing the mask which makes them abandon it mostly at the early stages of therapy.

A CPAP machine, supplies continues airway pressure throughout the breathing circle. CPAP can also be used to treat infants whose lungs is not yet fully developed.

What is BiPAP

Sometimes called BPAP, means Bi-level Positive Airway Pressure. This type of positive airway pressure has two pressure settings. To mimic the user’s naturally breathing rhythm, it has both high pressured airflow and low pressured airflow. When inhaling, the machine uses its high pressure settings and when exhaling, it uses the low pressure. This function makes PAP therapy more comfortable and it is easily tolerated as a way to keep the airway open while sleeping.

How does BiPAP machine work?

BiPAP therapy is used to treat sleep apnea. It prevents the airway from collapsing by pushing pressured air into a user’s airway.

BiPAP machine, are designed to deliver high pressured air at an inhalation or IPAP (the ”I” standing for inhalation) and when the user is exhaling the BiPAP machine senses it and then changes to its EPAP(the “E”, standing for expiratory or exhalation) function which lowers the airflow pressure. BiPAP, delivers continuous but yet varying airflow pressure.

It can be set to match a users breathing per minuite rate through the timed function.

It can be set to monitor the users breathing and adjusts if there is any significant shift in the users breathing using the spontaneous function, compensated by adjusting the airflow to the users pace or rhythm so that it maintains a steady airflow.

It also can also be set to both timed and spontaneous mode.

Advantages of BiPAP Machine

The most known characteristic of BiPAP machine is its ability to alternate airflow pressure. When inhaling, the pressure of airflow rises and when exhaling it reduces. This feature makes it very comfortable for users. It detects when a users breathing patter changes and then changes the airflow pressure timing to follow the same pattern.

It is also helpful for patients with neuromuscular dieses or those who need breathing assistance standard that CPAP can’t provide.

The BiPAP machine has proven particularly effective, for patients with cardiopulmonary disorders such as congestive heart.

Jaber Hassan, MD, of the Blount sleep health centre says that the BiPAP has become an advanced therapy for patients whose respiratory failure is as a result of COPD. Mr Hassan says that the use of BiPAP ”with the right patient, the use of a BiPAP machine at night can improve carbon dioxide and oxygen levels during the day on a chronic bases”. It is highly recommended for patients with moderate or acute sleep apnea.

Disadvantages of BiPAP Machine

The most common side effect: Users, may experience general (both BiPAP and CPAP) discomforts like dry nose, nasal congestion and rhinitis (inflammation of the nose).

In some cases, central apneas may occur with BiPAP. This may be probably due to the increase in lung volume when the air for inhalation (IPAP), is significantly higher than the air used when exhaling (EPAP)

The BiPAP machine cannot be used until a patient, fails at CPAP

BiPAPs  are very expensive. They cost more than CPAPs. BiPAP machine price about $3,000 and to rent $350 per month.

Patients, who initially had OSA (Obstructive sleep Apnea) and use BiPAP, may develop CSA (Central Sleep Apnea).

BiPAP vs CPAP: Conclusion

cpap vs bipap


BiPAP and CPAP are both advised in the treatment of sleep apnea. It is vital to understand the patient’s needs before choosing between the two. It is also important to consider the type of mask that would go with any of this machine because they play a significant role in the comfort of the patient.