Long term usage of BiPAP machine – a comprehensive guide

This guide will help you answer all the common questions regarding the usage of BiPAP therapy

What is a BiPAP machine?

A BiPAP (Bi-Level Positive Airway Pressure) machine is a non-invasive medical device that provides patients with breathing assistance. It does this by delivering pressurized air through a mask to the patient’s airways. The air pressure keeps the throat muscles from collapsing and reducing obstructions by acting as a splint.

Difference between CPAP and BiPAP machines

The main difference between the two is the amount of pressure used for inspiration and expiration. CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) uses the same amount of pressure, whereas BiPAP uses alternating amounts of pressure. When you inhale, your upper airway starts to contract slightly. With the help of a BiPAP machine, a certain amount of pressure can be used to decrease the effect of the contraction of the throat muscles during inhalation. When you exhale, your upper airway starts to expand slightly. Thus, the amount of pressure used to decrease the contracting effect of throat muscles during inhalation is greater than the amount used during exhalation. A BiPAP machine can cater to this particular need. 

This is the reason why CPAP is less preferred over BiPAP, as the same pressure is used for exhalation and inspiration which could cause some discomfort to the patient. To summarize, when a CPAP machine has failed to adequately provide sleeping assistance to a patient, a BiPAP machine is often used.

Who needs it?

As the primary purpose of using a BiPAP machine is to provide patients with breathing assistance, sleep apnea is a common condition to which a BiPAP machine can be used for. A BiPAP machine can also be used for congestive heart failure, cardiopulmonary disorders, and other serious diseases affecting the heart and lungs.

How to use it?

Disclaimer: Always have a doctor’s consent before using a BiPAP machine Getting started to use a BiPAP machine can be extremely stressful, but with the right guidance and steps, it will make your experience seamless. On the BiPAP machine, there will be 4 parameters or settings that you can set: EPAP Min, IPAP Max, PS Min, and PS Max. EPAP is the expiratory positive airway pressure and IPAP is the inspiratory positive airway pressure. PS (Pressure Support) is essentially the difference between IPAP and EPAP. In most cases, your doctor will be the one to give you certain values to use which should be inputted into these 4 parameters

Alternatives to BiPAP therapy

BiPAP is considered to be the best therapy for COPD, but if it does not suit you, do not worry! BiPAP therapy is just one of the few to treat COPD. Other options are:

Medication: The conventional method of using medicines can be followed under a doctor’s consent. This type of medication is usually sent to your lungs through a nebulizer or inhaler.

Oxygen Therapy: Although similar to BiPAP therapy, oxygen therapy is an invasive type of oxygen delivery system to your lungs. This method uses oxygen delivery tubes resting in your nose or a tube directly placed in your windpipe.

Surgery: This is the last resort and only used when other types of methods are not working and your symptoms worsen. Your doctor is the best person to decide what type of surgery must be performed depending on your current condition.

Side effects of using BiPAP Therapy

Although the side effects are not fatal in nature, it is vital to know what they are. The common side effects are:

  • Dry mouth
  • Nasal congestion
  • Claustrophobia 
  • General discomfort
  • Eye irritation
  • Leakage from the mask, decreasing the pressure for your airways
  • Sinus pain
  • Mild stomach bloating
  • Local skin damage from the mask

If any of these cause skepticism or may be problematic to you, talk to your doctor regarding these side effects and ask for alternative measures if necessary.

Important note: If you begin to feel sick or your breathing worsens after using BiPAP therapy, you must consult your doctor about this.

Longevity 

A common question before starting to use a BiPAP machine is “Can the machine be used for long-term purposes?” The answer is, “it depends from case to case”. Typically the life expectancy of a CPAP/BiPAP machine is three to five years. However, as mentioned earlier, if your condition does not get better or worsens, it is possible that your doctor will advise you to turn to better alternatives. Your doctor will provide you with the best guidance in this area.

How can Pluspin help?

Pluspin offers a vast network of reliable suppliers that have medical equipment that suits your needs. With the flexibility to rent or buy a product, Pluspin also offers the best customer service.

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