Most doctors use Continuous Positive Air Pressure (CPAP) or Bi-level Positive Air Pressure (BiPAP) to aid their patients who are suffering from sleep apnea.
The CPAP machine is used to observe and record a patient's sleep pattern over time. Using this information, the CPAP machine supplies a steady amount of air during a patient's sleep in order to maintain steady breathing throughout the night. Some more advanced CPAP models can adjust the air pressure to match the patient's rate of breathing.
BiPAP is similar to CPAP in that it provides air pressure to aid patients' sleep, but it provides two air pressure rates instead of the one found in the CPAP. The first air pressure setting is the expiratory pressure (EPAP), where air pressure is released on schedule to help clear air passages of obstructions. The second rate of pressure is the inspiratory pressure (IPAP), which reduces snoring and airway resistances. IPAP provides a steady supply of air to the nostrils.
CPAP therapy can be irritating to some sleep apnea sufferers as many do have normal cycles of breathing, which can be interrupted or at least irritated by the constant supply of air pumping through the patient's nostrils.
BiPAP therapy is recommended to patients who cannot abide the continuous high or low pressures of air during sleep that CPAP provides, or those who cannot stand the stress of CPAP. As BiPAP modifies its air pressure during sleep, patients can relax and obtain the comfort level needed for natural sleep.
The choice between CPAP and BiPAP therapies rests with the prescribing physician who can determine which air pressure system will work best for their patients.