BiPAP (Bilevel Positive Airway Pressure )

Medical researchers have developed a number of therapies to assist patients with breathing problems. One of the most common is a Bilevel Positive Airway Pressure device, called BiPAP for short. BiPAP is typically a desktop ventilation system that that feeds air into the lungs through a mask worn over the face. It is non-invasive because it doesn’t require the surgical insertion of tubes or other medical devices to function. BiPAP has the additional advantage of matching a patient’s respiratory pattern. The air pressure generated by the device during inhalation is reduced for the outbreath. This decreases the discomfort that some people feel with machine-assisted breathing, including single-pressure CPAP devices.

Respiratory care is a major focus at Baptist Health. Our physicians, therapists, and other providers stay up-to-date with the latest advances in treating pulmonary conditions and diseases. You’ll receive the best that medicine has to offer, always with a human touch.

Why Would I Receive BiPAP Treatment?

BiPAP therapy has proven effective in treating persons with a variety of chronic pulmonary conditions. These include:

  • Asthma
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD)
  • Neurological disorders that compromise breathing
  • Obesity hyperventilation syndrome
  • Pneumonia
  • Post-surgical breathing problems
  • Sleep apnea.

Like any medical therapy, BiPAP has limitations. Patients with severe breathing difficulty may require an invasive procedure, such as throat-tube ventilation or a tracheostomy. 

How Will BiPAP Treatment Help My Condition?

BiPAP therapy is designed to assist persons with troubled breathing. It does this by creating an external force for moving air in and out of the body, reducing the strain that normally falls on the chest muscles and lungs. BiPAP also aids in gas exchange, helping to oxygenate the blood and remove waste carbon dioxide. The result is a better rested, better nourished patient.

What Should I Expect from BiPAP Treatment?

You can receive BiPAP treatments at a medical facility or in the home. If you receive treatment while an inpatient, a member of the medical staff will operate the BiPAP device for you. If you continue therapy at home, you or a family member will need to learn how to operate the BiPAP device.

Each device has three primary components: a face or nose mask, an air pump, and a tube that connects the two. You operate a BiPAP device by placing the mask over your mouth and nose and turning on the air pump. Your physician or respiratory therapist will need to set the machine so it generates appropriate levels of air pressure prior to first use.

BiPAP treatments are commonly conducted during periods of sleep. This is usually the best time for breathing assistance, because respiration is harder when the body is lying down. Daytime treatments are possible, but the nature of the BiPAP device limits a patient’s mobility while in use.

BiPAP devices can be uncomfortable until you get used to them. Speak with your physician or respiratory therapist if you have trouble adjusting.

What Are the Possible Side Effects?

BiPAP therapy has several possible side effects:

  • Claustrophobia
  • Dry nose and mouth
  • Feelings of discomfort
  • Inflammation of the mucous membranes (rhinitis)
  • Irritated eyes
  • Nasal congestion and sinus pain
  • Stomach bloating.

A BiPAP mask needs to remain firmly in place during treatments. A loose mask allows air to escape, decreasing pressure and reducing the therapy’s effectiveness.

What Is My Prognosis with BiPAP Treatment?

BiPAP therapy has a track record of success in helping individuals with chronic respiratory issues manage their condition and improve quality of life. Research has also pointed to the effectiveness of BiPAP in improving gas exchange (oxygen for carbon dioxide) in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD).

When It Comes to Respiratory Health, We’re a Breath of Fresh Air

If you’re dealing with a respiratory ailment or condition, see your Baptist Health physician. He or she will be able to assess your condition and determine which medical treatments, if any, are most appropriate for you.

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