Difference Between CPAP and BIPAP

Main Difference – CPAP vs BIPAP

CPAP or BIPAP are two different breathing machines which are mostly used to treat sleep apnea and other breathing disorders. CPAP stands for Continuous positive Airway Pressure whereas BIPAP stands for Bi-level Positive Airway Pressure. Both these machines deliver a steady and continuous stream of pressurized air to patient’s airways to prevent them from collapsing and obstruction. The main difference between CPAP and BIPAP is that CPAP machines can only be set to a single pressure that remains consistent throughout the night whereas BIPAP machines can be set to two pressure settings as for inhalation and exhalation.

This article covers,

1. What is CPAP?
     – Function, Elements, Advantages and Use

2. What is BIPAP?
     – Function, Elements, Properties and Use

3. What is the Difference between CPAP and BIPAP?

Difference Between CPAP and BIPAP - CPAP vs BIPAP Comparison Summary

What is CPAP

CPAP stands for Continuous positive Airway Pressure, which is a way of taking an operating pressure and applying it inside the throat to prevent you from collapsing when you are asleep. It is a common therapy used to treat sleep apnea. This machine presses air it draws from the room and then supplies the air through tubes connected to a mask which will be worn on your face.

The specific machine used here contains three main parts including

  • A mask with a strap which fits over the nose or both nose and mouth
  • A tube which connects the mask to the CPAP machine
  • A motor which rhythmically blows air into the tube

Some CPAP machines may also include heated humidifiers and data collectors. CPAP is usually used as an effective treatment for obstructive sleep apnea which basically results in frequent pauses in breathing or shallow breaths while a person is asleep. This will, in turn, result in a difficulty of air entry into the lungs.

There is a possibility of an airway collapsing or blockage during sleep in obstructive sleep apnea. In fact, when you eventually try to inhale and exhale, the air trapped inside the nasal cavity will squeeze through resulting in a loud snoring.

Major Advantages of CPAP

  • Keep airway tract open while sleeping
  • Correct snoring which can lead to a social stigma
  • Improve the quality of sleep
  • Improvement of the symptoms of sleep apnea-excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Prevention of high blood pressureDifference Between CPAP and BIPAP

What is BIPAP

BIPAP or  Bi-level Positive Airway Pressure is a non-invasive treatment for patients with sleep apnea which delivers pressurized air into an individual’s respiratory tract through a mask in order to prevent potential collapses or obstructions in the lungs and respiratory tubes.

The most significant feature of BIPAP is that it comes with two settings which basically monitor the pressure on inhalation and exhalation. It checks the patients’ capacity to breathe and any sustaining issues related to breathing, by increasing the pressure and forcing the person to breathe while falling asleep.

Most specialists recommend BIPAP machines for patients who are completely unable to breathe on their own since the machine helps in getting more oxygen into their blood. This is also recommended as a regular treatment for those who have severe apnea problems or for those who have a tough time dealing with the CPAP machines.

Other recommendations for the use of BIPAP

  • Sleep apnea patients with high-pressure set-up or low oxygen levels.
  • When CPAP fails in affected patients
  • Patients with cardiopulmonary disorders e.g. congestive heart failure

Difference Between CPAP and BIPAP

Difference Between CPAP and BIPAP


CPAP stands for Continuous positive Airway Pressure

BIPAP stands for Bi-level Positive Airway Pressure.

Pressure Settings

The main difference between CPAP and BIPAP is that CPAP machines can only be set to a single pressure that remains consistent throughout the night whereas BIPAP machines can be set to two pressure settings as for inhalation (high-ipap) and exhalation (low-epap). This dual setting system in BIPAP ensures the patient to get more air in and out of the respiratory system.

Image Courtesy:

“CPAP” By PruebasBMA – Own work via

“BIPAP” By James Heilman, MD – Own work  via

About the Author: Embogama

Embogama is a passionate freelance writer for several years. Her areas of interest include general medicine, clinical medicine, health and fitness, Ayurveda medicine, psychology, counseling and piano music

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