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Nasal CPAP and BiPAP

Nasal CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) is the most commonly prescribed therapy for patients who have obstructive sleep apnea. It is a particularly important for those patients who have moderate to severe disease or patients who have severe daytime sleepiness. In using this therapy, the patient is fitted with a nasal mask (also referred to as "nasal interface") that is worn during sleep. This mask is attached via tubing to a small generator that sits at the bedside and directs pressure to the nasal interface. When properly fitted and when the pressure is properly adjusted, this therapy alleviates any blockage in the nasal or oral passages that may lead to obstruction of the airway thereby relieving apneas during sleep. This therapy may require an acclimatation period that may last anywhere from several days to several weeks for the patient to be adequately comfortable with the therapy. The equipment may require adjustments; these adjustments will be coordinated through the physician or the equipment company.

Nasal BiPAP (bilevel positive airway pressure) is a therapy very similar to nasal CPAP (above) with the following exception. Unlike nasal CPAP (during which the pressure is delivered "continuously"), patients on nasal BiPAP will have a certain pressure delivered during inspiration and a lesser pressure during exhalation. This therapy is generally more expensive but in many patients is significantly more comfortable, particularly if high pressures are required via nasal CPAP. This therapy also can prove helpful to patients who have other pulmonary problems by actually assisting breathing during sleep by assisting inspiration by providing extra pressure when the patient is taking in a breath. In general, patients who are able to tolerate nasal CPAP usually do not require BiPAP therapy when treating obstructive sleep apnea.

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