Breathing Easier With CPAP, APAP, and BiPAP: What’s the Difference?

Sleep apnea is a common condition, with more than 200,000 cases every year. Sleep apnea is a chronic condition where your air pathways become blocked during sleep due to various causes. The most common prescription to alleviate sleep apnea is a form of PAP machine to push air through the blockage while you rest. That being said, what’s the difference between the three types of machines used? Let’s uncover what makes a CPAP, APAP, and BiPAP unique to your sleep apnea needs.

Types of PAP Machines and Their Differences

First, it’s important to understand how PAP machines work, to begin with. PAP stands for positive airway pressure. It is just a fancy way to describe a small machine that pushes air through any blockages to ensure the patient is able to breathe at all times.


CPAP stands for constant positive airway pressure. CPAP is unique because it provides one continuous force of air at all times. A certain amount of force is decided upon with the help of medical professionals to see what best suits your sleep apnea needs. Then, the machine pushes that level of the air at a constant rate through the mask attached to your nose. This ensures that the machine is successful all night and is the most common PAP machine.


BiPAP stands for bilevel positive airway pressure. BiPAP machines are identical to CPAP except that they provide two set pressure levels. One high-pressure level is delivered when the patient inhales, and another lower-pressure level is delivered when they exhale. This is to provide additional comfort while still ensuring that a set level is in place to ensure success.


APAP stands for automatic positive airway pressure. APAP machines work similarly to BiPAP in changing pressure depending on whether the patient is exhaling or inhaling. However, the pressure is not set and changes depending on the patient’s needs as they sleep. The machine will automatically adjust air pressure levels to ensure it’s as effective and comfortable as possible.

Treating Sleep Apnea

The fatigue, uncertainty, and restlessness caused by sleep apnea affect hundreds of thousands of people every year. That’s why people like our St. Louis Sinus Center team are here to give you back your nights. So if you’re struggling with sleep apnea or unsure whether you have it, contact our experienced team at our offices in St. Louis and Festus, MO, at 314-473-5433 and get the help you deserve.

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