Doctors recommend Bilevel Positive Airway Pressure (BiPAP) therapy as a treatment option for various lung and respiratory conditions. This type of therapy requires the use of a BiPAP machine, a device designed to help patients suffering from breathing difficulties. Years ago, BiPAP therapy can only be facilitated in the hospital. But nowadays, you can buy your own machine and do the therapy in the comfort of your home – with the advice of your doctor, of course.
In this article, we’ll discuss seven medical conditions that can be managed and/or treated with BiPAP therapy, and expound on how this treatment option works for each condition.
Note: Just like with continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines, dirty BiPAP machines may cause complications such as sinus infection, nosebleeds, meningitis, teeth and/or gum damage, and skin problems. Be sure to clean your device before each use, and use an efficient, easy-to-use BiPAP machine cleaner to prevent these from happening.
1. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD) is a disease that affects the lung airflow of patients. When you have COPD, you experience persistent blocks in the lungs that interfere with the way you breathe. These blocks cause breathing difficulties and other symptoms such as cough (with or without mucus), fatigue, respiratory infections, shortness of breath, and wheezing. COPD comes in four stages, from stage 1 or mild COPD to stage 4 or very severe COPD. The two main types of COPD are chronic bronchitis and emphysema.
How Does BiPAP Therapy Work for COPD?
According to the World Health Organization, there is no cure for COPD. However, since it’s a chronic condition, you can prevent it from getting worse and can also relieve symptoms through BiPAP therapy. If you have moderate to very severe COPD, your doctor may recommend BiPAP therapy in the hospital so they can monitor how it affects the oxygen and carbon dioxide levels in your blood and breathing muscles. If based on observation, BiPAP therapy works well for you, your doctor may advise you to continue with the therapy at home.
BiPAP machines produce two levels of air pressure that pass through a tube, going to the mask that covers your mouth and nose (for some machines, just your nose). The first level of air pressure is considered normal and is released when you breathe in. The second level of air pressure is a lower one which helps you breathe out easily. Just like CPAP machines, a BiPAP machine also helps ensure that your airway doesn’t close and cause breathing difficulties when you sleep.
2. Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a common sleep disorder characterized by several pauses in breathing during sleep. This occurs when the airway at the back of the throat gets blocked, whether it’s caused by anatomical or physical issues (i.e. abnormal size or positioning of the jaw, tongue, tonsils, neck, etc.), nasal congestion, family history of OSA, sleeping on your back, obesity, or hormonal issues.
Some of the symptoms of this condition include loud snoring, forgetfulness, drowsiness, leg swelling, acting grumpy, hard-to-treat headaches, depression, and leg swelling.
How Does BiPAP Therapy Work for OSA?
While CPAP therapy has been the go-to treatment option for OSA, doctors recommend BiPAP therapy to patients who have low oxygen levels or high-pressure settings. These patients usually experience difficulties exhaling using the CPAP machine as it only produces one level of air pressure, and may find relief with BiPAP therapy as it produces two levels of air pressure.
BiPAP machines also have a breath timing feature that helps determine the number of inhales and exhales you should be doing per minute, and allows you to set an ideal respiration rate. Therefore, if you take too long without inhaling, the BiPAP machine will force you to take a breath by increasing the air pressure temporarily.
3. Obesity Hypoventilation Syndrome (OHS)
Obesity hypoventilation syndrome (OHS), also known as Pickwickian syndrome, is a sleep-related breathing disorder that some obese people experience. This condition causes poor breathing that leads to too much carbon dioxide, as well as low levels of oxygen in your blood. OHS is characterized by three things: (1) obesity, (2) daytime hypoventilation or difficulties in getting rid of carbon dioxide, and (3) breathing problems during sleep such as sleep apnea.
Some of the symptoms of OHS are poor sleep quality, shortness of breath, daytime sleepiness, low energy levels, headaches, and depression.
How Does BiPAP Therapy Work for OHS?
About 90% of patients diagnosed with OHS also have sleep apnea, making CPAP therapy the first line of treatment for this condition as well. And as mentioned above, if CPAP therapy doesn’t work for OHS patients with sleep apnea, doctors may recommend BiPAP therapy. Meanwhile, for OHS patients with coexisting sleep-related hypoventilation or those with acutely decompensated OHS, BiPAP therapy is often the first choice of treatment.
Pneumonia is a lung infection (either in just one lung or both lungs) caused by bacteria, fungi or virus. When you have pneumonia, the air sacs in your lungs are inflamed due to infection, making it hard for you to breathe. Pneumonia is contagious as the germs causing it may spread to others through airborne droplets. The spread may happen when a person comes into contact with an object or surface contaminated with virus or bacteria that came from the cough or sneeze of a person with pneumonia.
The most common symptoms of pneumonia include chest pain, coughing, fever, feelings of tiredness, headaches, loss of appetite, shortness of breath, sweating or chills, and vomiting or nausea.
How Does BiPAP Therapy Work for Pneumonia?
The process of BiPAP therapy is the same as how it’s done for other conditions, but it offers greater noninvasive oxygenation and ventilation support to patients suffering from pneumonia as compared to another treatment option called high-flow nasal cannula (HFNC). In fact, a study conducted in 2003 says that BiPAP therapy helps reduce the intubation rates and length of stay of pneumonia patients in the ICU.
However, BiPAP therapy may worsen pneumonia if the machine you are using is not regularly sanitized, and/or is contaminated with viruses, germs, or bacteria. Be sure to clean your BiPAP machine with a BiPAP cleaner before use to prevent this from happening.
5. Poor Breathing After Surgery
Anesthesia is often administered to a person during a surgical procedure. However, it can affect the way your lungs work after surgery. Since anesthesia may put you to sleep, it usually slows down your breathing, and your breaths would not be as deep as you normally do when you’re awake and active. These “shallower” breaths may keep the alveoli, or the tiny air sacs in your lungs, from filling with air and lead to complications like that of pneumonia. Anesthesia may also cause mucus to build up in your lungs that may then lead to further respiratory concerns.
How Does BiPAP Therapy Help Relive Poor Breathing after Surgery?
Just like with any other breathing problems, the BiPAP machine can help push air into your lungs through the mask or nasal plugs connected to the ventilator, so you can breathe better after surgery. It can be done in the hospital, as advised by your physician while you’re in the post-anesthesia care unit (PACU) or when you’re in the recovery room. BiPAP machines can also be used when transitioning or coming off invasive breathing support for surgery of a serious condition.
6. Neurological Disorders With Breathing Problems
The nervous system is composed of the brain, nerves, and the spinal cord. These three control the way your body works, so when something goes wrong, one of your normal bodily functions, including the way you breathe, may be affected. This is also why neurological disorders, such as ischemic stroke and multiple sclerosis, can lead to both sleep and respiratory disorders. For instance, ischemic stroke is often linked to obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).
How Does BiPAP Therapy Help Relieve Breathing Problems?
People with neurological disorders may use a BiPAP machine and wear a BiPAP mask whenever they experience breathing difficulties. It’s best to consult your doctor to know when’s the best time (and how often you should use) the BiPAP machine, depending on the gravity of your breathing issues.
The airways in the lungs, also known as bronchial tubes, of patients who have asthma are always inflamed. This chronic condition can make it difficult for air to move in and out of your lungs as your airways get more swollen, and as the muscles around the airways tighten when something triggers your symptoms.
The most common symptoms of this disease include shortness of breast, chest pain and/or tightness, coughing, and wheezing. Some of the triggers may include intense physical activity, allergies, dust mites, pests, mold, tobacco smoke, mold, colds, pollen, bad weather, some medicines, fragrances, etc.
How Does BiPAP Therapy Work for Asthma?
Several studies and clinical trials have been done to test whether BiPAP therapy can be used to help treat or manage moderate to severe asthma exacerbations or not. Some studies found out that BiPAP therapy can help improve the respiratory rate and oxygenation of patients with severe asthma exacerbations.
BiPAP therapy doesn’t cause irritation to asthma patients as well, concluding that it’s safe to use even for younger patients. Some studies also hypothesized that BiPAP therapy may help reduce the length of a person’s hospital stay during an asthma flare-up, may reduce the need for invasive ventilation, and may also reduce the need for intravenous bronchodilators.
Just be sure to clean your BiPAP machine before putting the mask on, especially when using it for asthma, as a dirty machine is proven to increase or worsen asthma-related symptoms. We recommend using a BiPAP cleaner, just like what we offer here at CleanFlash®, for twice the cleaning efficiency.
Use CleanFlash® to Keep Your BiPAP Machine Clean
Once again, we offer a CleanFlash® set that comes with a portable ozone BiPAP cleaning device, a universal tube adapter, a charging cord, a USB power adapter, a UV bag, and a manual for reference of safe usage of the device. This BiPAP cleaning set is safe to use, doesn’t contain harmful chemicals, and is FDA, FCC, and CE-registered. Using a BiPAP cleaner can help you save tons of time as it can clean your machine (and kill 99.99% of bacteria) in less than 30 minutes. At the same time, it can help you save money, considering the amount you could have spent on cleaning tools, water, and more.
Our BiPAP sanitizer is lightweight and can be brought anytime, anywhere. You can automatically get it with a two-year warranty, so you don’t have to worry about the effectivity and function of your equipment within the said period.
If you’re suffering from any of the conditions mentioned above, there’s a huge possibility that your doctor will advise BiPAP therapy for treatment or relief. BiPAP machines are generally safe, but may cause complications such as sinus infection, meningitis, nosebleeds, skin problems, and teeth and/or gum damage if you use the equipment unclean.
To learn more about our BiPAP machine cleaner or if you have questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We’ll get back to you as soon as we can. For more questions about BiPAP therapy and its relation to these conditions and diseases, please consult your doctor.
Thanks for reading this far!
World Health Organization
Lung Health Institute
American Sleep Apnea Association
Johns Hopkins Medicine
American Thoracic Society
Emergency Department (ED) Critical Care
American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology
TMJ & SLeep Therapy Centre
Medical News Today
St. Vincent's Hospital Lung Health