Bilateral positive airway pressure is commonly abbreviated as BPAP. Many people use the term “BiPAP,” but this is a trademark owned by a specific manufacturer. Whether you call the machines BPAP or BiPAP, they are a helpful alternative to regular continuous positive airway pressure machines, or CPAP machines. In Minnesota, BiPAP machines and other BPAP models are now available.
BPAP machines are necessary when the person using the machine needs extra help with actually breathing. These machines use two different pressures for the inhale and exhale cycles, and these pressures are designed to make it easier for the person using the BPAP machine to get as much air as possible. Conditions like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma mess with how easy it is to inhale and exhale by constricting the airways in the body. This can render the regular pressure from a CPAP machine rather ineffective as the air coming in will meet more resistance from the lungs.
When someone has one of these conditions, CPAP might not be enough. This is where BiPAP and BPAP come in. This version of CPAP forces the air in with more pressure so that the lungs do not block part of the airflow, and it also reduces the pressure during the exhale portion of the cycle to make it easier for the person to exhale. When the person is awake, he or she can control how much force is needed to inhale or exhale, but when the person is asleep, that control goes away, and breathing becomes the fully automatic process that it is supposed to be. Unfortunately, that means that the added constriction in the lungs can affect how well the person breathes.
Look at it this way: All BPAP machines are CPAP, but not all CPAP machines are BPAP. CPAP does not have this alternating pressure, so people with pulmonary obstructions or reduced volume might not get the full benefit of the continuous pressure from a CPAP machine. In Minnesota BiPAP machines and other BPAP machine models provide that extra push the person needs to force air into the lungs.
In Minnesota, BiPAP machines still require the use of a mask. The overall setup does not really change, so people looking at getting BPAP or BiPAP machines in Minnesota will still have to look at how well the mask fits, if it irritates the person’s skin, if it has a good seal, and so on. The only real difference is in the pressure. The motor in the machine might make enough noise to affect sleeping, just as regular CPAP machines can be noisy, so patients using the machines might want to investigate methods for reducing the impact of the noise, such as hiding the machine in a closet and using a long tube to reach the bed.
If a patient is using BiPAP or BPAP and feels uncomfortable, even when the machine is set correctly, the patient needs to notify his or her doctor immediately. While the problem could be with the machine setup itself, it is possible that there are other health issues affecting this, and it is better to eliminate those before the patient worries too much about it. The doctor can see if the recommended pressure itself is wrong, too. Patients should also contact the manufacturer if they are not sure that they are using the machines correctly. There can be mild discomfort in even the best systems — the patient might not like masks, and so on — but it should not stop the person from sleeping or cause pain. These machines are meant to help, not make things worse