CPAP vs BiPAP: Difference and Comparison

There is a disorder, Sleep apnea which is not as common among individuals but occurs in approximately 3% to 7% of individuals. In this disorder, while sleeping, individuals face problems with breathing. This may be caused due to some increased muscle obstruction in the throat. These frequent pauses can sometimes be life-threatening for the individual; thus, they are treated with some therapies, and CPAP and BiPAP are among them.

Key Takeaways

  1. CPAP machines deliver continuous positive airway pressure to maintain open airways, while BiPAP machines provide two levels of pressure: inspiratory and expiratory.
  2. CPAP is commonly used for treating obstructive sleep apnea, whereas BiPAP relieves those with central or complex sleep apnea.
  3. BiPAP machines can be more comfortable due to the varying pressure levels, making them a preferred choice for patients who cannot tolerate CPAP.


The difference between CPAP and BiPAP is that in CPAP therapy, the individual is treated with only a single pressure setting of the machine that regulates only the inhalation pressure, whereas comparatively, on the other side, when the individual is treated with BiPAP therapy, they have two different settings separately to regulate inhalation and exhalation pressure.


CPAP therapy is the acronym used for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure. Most commonly, doctors prescribe CPAP therapy for the patient. Like its name, the machine used in CPAP therapy maintains both flows of inhalation and exhalation. But sometimes, while using this machine, the patient experiences some discomfort in the exhalation process. They have reported a choking problem during this.

BiPAP therapy is the acronym used for Bi-level Positive Airway Pressure. Sometimes the cases are severe, or their condition does not require equal pressure for inhalation and exhalation. Then, in that case, doctors advised the patient to go for the Bi-PAP therapy, in which pressures can be maintained separately.


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Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonCPAPBiPAP
Complete TermsContinuous Positive Airway PressureBi-level Positive Airway Pressure
Cost Low chargesHigh charges
Pressure LevelSingleDouble
Typical Pressure Range4-20 centimeter H2O4-25 centimeter H2O
Medical UsesPremature babies, sleep apneaParkinson disease, OSA patients, CSA, patients of congestive heart failure, ALS, COPD
Insurance CoverageNot necessaryNot necessary when CPAP gets fail

What is CPAP?

CPAP therapy is the terminology used as the short form for the Continuous Positive Airway Pathway in medical terms. The short terms are easier for doctors to understand in one go. The therapy is the active solution used in cases of sleep apnea. Doctors have recommended it as the most common treatment or cure for it.

In the cases of Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), CPAP therapy is first suggested, but if the patient fails to respond further, the doctor advises the patient to go for BiPAP therapy. CPAP therapy is a cost-effective one. The attached machines can maintain pressure on a continuous level.

The pressure range necessary in the CPAP therapy is approximately about 4 centimetres to 20 centimetres H2O. Sometimes this therapy is also used to cure short breathing in prematurely born babies as they face quite a difficulty in breathing. The one drawback of CPAP therapy is that due sometimes while exhaling the air, the patient has a feeling of choking, which is immediate to be checked by the doctor.


What is BiPAP?

Bi-level Positive Airway Pathway is the therapy known by the acronym Bi-PAP and is more convenient for doctors in medical terms. It is one of the PAP therapies that is given to patients suffering from sleep apnea.

In the BiPAP therapy, the exhalation and inhalation pressure is maintained, but not singly like in CPAP, but in this therapy, the flow is regulated separately according to the need. In general, the pressure for inhalation is always kept quite high, while the pressure for the exhalation process pressure is kept low. The general range of pressure of the machine is approximately between 4 centimetres to 25 centimetres H2O.

The medical uses of BiPAP therapy are quite vast, and it is not only restricted to patients with sleep apnea. The therapy is used for Parkinson’s disease patients, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), it is a cure for patients with congestive heart failure, in some cases of OSA, when CPAP therapy is failed then BiPAP therapy is given to the patient, and many more others.

bipap scaled

Main Differences Between CPAP and BiPAP

  1. The complete terminology for the acronym CPAP is Continuous Positive Airway Pathway, whereas comparatively, on the other hand, the complete terminology for the acronym BiPAP is Bi-level Positive Airway Pathway. 
  2. The price range for a single-time CPAP therapy is low, whereas comparatively, on the other hand, the price range for a single-time BiPAP therapy is high.
  3. In CPAP therapy, the inhalation and exhalation pressure is maintained at a single pressure level, whereas comparatively, on the other side, in BiPAP therapy, the inhalation and exhalation pressure can be maintained separately, thus having double pressure levels.
  4. The pressure range used in CPAP therapy is approximately 4 centimetres to 20 centimetres H2O, whereas comparatively, on the other side, the pressure range used in BiPAP therapy is approximately 4 centimetres to 25 centimetres H2O.
  5. CPAP therapy is actively used in cases where premature babies are born and face difficulty in breathing and also in some obstructive sleep apnea cases (OSA), whereas comparatively, the medical uses for the Bi-PAP therapy are vast, and it is used for patients facing congestive heart failure, central sleep apnea (CSA), ALS, COPD, Parkinson disease, OSA patients who failed to respond to CPAP therapy.
  6. The CPAP therapy is not necessary to be covered under insurance, whereas comparatively, on the other side, the BiPAP therapy is also not necessary to be covered until the CPAP therapy is failed in some cases. 
Difference Between CPAP and BiPAP
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