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3 Types of CPAP Machine and How They’re Used

With the right information, buying a CPAP machine doesn’t have to be intimidating. If you are diagnosed with sleep apnea or think you might suffer from it, you may be anxious and faced with a number of questions about your options. The right treatments can include the use of assisted breathing machines, called CPAP machines, which are less invasive than surgery and prescribed by a doctor for the treatment of Obstructive Sleep Apnea.

It’s only natural to wonder what types of CPAP machines there are and how they can better help you and your doctor manage your sleep apnea. This guide will explain each type of CPAP machine and how they each work to treat OSA so that you can ask your doctor the right questions to determine how each of the different types might provide you the effective and personalized treatment you need.

How an Assisted Breathing Machine Can Help

OSA sufferers struggle with keeping their airways open at night due to the force of gravity and the natural muscle relaxation that occurs in the throat and upper airway during sleep. All three types of sleep apnea machines work by mechanically forcing air into the obstructed airway, but support different aspects of breathing to prevent the collapsing of airways during sleep.

With three major types and a number of different styles to pick from, learning more about available options can help you better understand how to better manage your sleep apnea. With patients often wearing these devices each and every time they sleep, it’s important to find a device that suits your individual needs. Luckily, there is a wide selection of machines and accessories to choose from.

You may be interested in learning more about the different types of CPAP machines but it should first be clarified that CPAP machines are just one of three major categories of devices. All of them work to apply some form of positive airway pressure to prevent airway collapse and the resulting drop in blood oxygenation. To determine which type of device is right for you, your doctor may consider the cause and severity of your OSA and its related symptoms.

3 Types of Assisted Breathing Machines

The public is most familiar with CPAPs–the oldest and most common type of airway pressure devices. However, new types of devices are now on the market as the medical community better understands sleep apnea and develops more targeted treatment options.

In addition to CPAP machines, the other two types that you may be less familiar with are BiPAP and APAP. While it is correct to say that each of these devices represents a different category of machine used to treat different types and severities of sleep apnea, CPAP machines were the original iteration of assisted breathing devices with APAPs and BiPAPs offering additional benefits and functionality.

Here are the three types of CPAP machines and how they work:

CPAP: Continuous Positive Airway Pressure

These prevent the collapse of airways delivering a continuous stream of air through a tube and mask worn by the patient. Often the first line of positive airway treatment for sleep apnea suffers.

BiPAP: Bilateral Positive Airway Pressure

Bilateral devices work by delivering the same stream of air but alternate between pressure forcing air in when inhaling and the negative pressure forcing air out in line with the patient’s natural breathing. Can be used for more complex sleep apnea cases.

APAP: Autonomous Positive Airway Pressure

The most sophisticated sleep apnea devices are used to treat OSA by monitoring and adapting to fluctuations in the patient’s breathing, automatically adjusting pressure to provide the right amount of airflow.

New-to-Market Combination Devices

These 2-in-1 devices are able to operate between two or more of the modes listed above. The most common configuration is the CPAP and BiPAP combination machine. The needs of sleep apnea patients can fluctuate over time, requiring more flexibility from devices that monitor and respond to changes in breathing patterns. Switching between assisted breathing modes with combination devices is often as simple and convenient as pressing a button.