Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease cannot be cured, but the use of two somewhat similar types of breathing devices--CPAP and BIPAP machines--can help you breathe easier and avoid more serious conditions.
CPAP is an acronym for continuous positive airway pressure. BIPAP is an acronym for bi-level positive airway pressure. Both machines are usually used at night.
Both machines work by using a face mask. The mask directs pumped oxygen into your nose and mouth.
CPAP and BIPAP machines work the same way except for one difference: CPAP machines work by pushing a steady stream of air into the mask, the rate of which is determined by your physician. BIPAP machines are programmed to reduce the air pressure upon your exhalation, and they increase the air pressure upon inhalation. BIPAP machines can also sense when you are having trouble breathing, and therefore adjust the air pressure accordingly.
Both machines are designed to keep your lungs ventilated. There are times when a COPD patient is short of breath and cannot exert enough exhalation against the CPAP's steady stream, which is when BIPAP machines are used.
Lung ventilation is critical for COPD patients because their lungs have a reduced capacity to transmit oxygen into the bloodstream.
Both machines require the use of a mask. It may take some time to get used to sleeping with a mask over your face, but it's important that you keep it on. The longer you can keep the mask on during the night, the more benefit you will receive from the treatment.
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