What is a BIPAP or VPAP Machine?

A Bilevel positive airway pressure BiPAP machine is a device that is used to help people with respiratory conditions which may extend to sleep apnoea. Sleep apnoea refers to a condition whereby a person’s breathing is interrupted during the night. It may happen once or several times. It’s dangerous if not detected and treated soon enough.


How BIPAP Works

BIPAP delivers pressurized air into a person’s passageway, just like a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine. The downside with a CPAP machine, as reported by patients, is that it’s often hard to exhale against pressurized air being delivered through the mask. BiPAP, on the other hand, offers two different pressures: one for inhaling and a slightly lower pressure for exhaling.

Popular CPAP brands include Resmed (Airsense 10 machine), Devilbiss Healthcare and Transcend, Philips Respironics (Dreamstation) and Fisher and Paykel Healthcare (Icon+).


There are three modes in which a BiPAP machine works:

  • Timed – This mode switches the device between inspiratory and expiratory, in a programmed manner that helps maintain a certain number of prescribed breaths per minute.

  • Spontaneous – In this mode, the machine is able to sense when a person switches between inspiratory and expiratory breathing, and adjusts accordingly.

  • Spontaneous/ timed – Here, the machine essentially switches depending on a patient’s breathing. At the same time, it has a timed mode that is used as back up in order to maintain the required breaths per minute a patient is supposed to take.

Before using any mode, it’s important that you consult with a physician to determine which mode is best suited for you.


When to Use BiPAP

There are several situations in which a BiPAP would be used:

  • It’s often used to treat patients who are suffering from high blood pressure as well as patients who have low oxygen levels in their blood.

  • It serves as a backup plan in case a CPAP fails to treat sleep apnoea in some patients.

  • BiPAP is best suited for patients who suffer from neuromuscular disorders or lung disorders.

  • It’s used instead of CPAP for patients who struggle from cardiopulmonary disorders like heart failure.

  • It’s also ideal for patients who struggle to exhale and experience breathing difficulties while using CPAP.

  • It may also be of benefit to children who find the constant pressure of CPAP difficult


Are There any Disadvantages of BiPAP Therapy?

There are common disadvantages that BiPAP shares with CPAP and they include:

  • nasal congestion

  • mask air leaks

  • dry nose

  • discomfort

  • rhinitis

The main disadvantage of BiPAP is that it is very expensive. If you want to buy the machine, you will need to part with over $3,000. If you prefer to rent it instead, you will have to pay on average $200 per month.

You do have the option of using a refurbished BiPAP machine; although, if the device was not refurbished by its original manufacturer, it will be void of its warranty. If you choose to buy a BiPAP device from an untrustworthy source, you may only be setting yourself up for disappointment.

If you prefer buying a brand new one, the best brands are Resmed (Lumis Machines) and Philips Respironics (BiPAP Auto and BIPAP Auto SV Advanced).