cpap and bipap machine

What is the Difference Between CPAP and BiPAP Therapy?

CPAP therapy and BiPAP therapy both apply to sleep apnea patients. Here are the similarities and differences between both types of therapy and the machines you may have to use.

What is CPAP?

CPAP stands for continuous positive airway pressure. Sleep apnea patients have a tendency for their airways to close, leading to disruptive and unhealthy sleep patterns. This treatment for sleep apnea uses mild air pressure to keep your airways open while you sleep.

What is BiPAP?

For some patients, mild air pressure isn’t enough. BiPAP or bilevel positive airway pressure delivers pressurized air both during inhalation and exhalation, regulating settings prescribed by your sleep doctor. BiPAP is used for more severe sleep apnea cases, other health conditions, or for sleep apnea patients who have been unsuccessful with CPAP.

What are the Similarities Between CPAP vs BiPAP?

Both CPAP and BiPAP therapies use pressurized air to treat sleep apnea. They both therapies use machines with a hose and mask to deliver that pressurized air. Both  CPAP machines and BiPAP machines are available with humidifiers. Both machines are also available in portable versions.

What Health Conditions do CPAP and BiPAP Treat?

 CPAP therapy is focused entirely on managing sleep apnea. BiPAP therapy is also used for patients with congestive heart failure, coronary artery disease, and pulmonary lung disease like COPD. With regulated pressures for both breathing in and out, BiPAP becomes helpful for patients with low oxygen levels.

What is the Difference Between BiPAP and CPAP?

CPAP machines deliver pressurized air through the nostrils into the back of the throat to maintain an open airway while you sleep. While the air pressure is adjustable, the CPAP machine is delivering only one flow of air.

BiPAP machines deliver two levels of air pressure, inhalation positive airway pressure (IPAP) and exhalation positive airway pressure (EPAP).  These two adjustable pressure settings provide a more regulated control of airflow for patients.

Preferred treatment for mild sleep apneaPreferred treatment for other health conditions that impact breathing
Works with most sleep apnea patientsImproves exhalation
Available in a variety of machinesOffers more refined air pressure flow adjustment


CPAP consBiPAP cons
Doesn’t work for all sleep apnea
More expensive than CPAP
Sometimes comes with discomfort
of the nose and throat
May take more time to adjust to two pressure settings over one
Limited to single air pressure settingMay experience same discomfort of nose and throat like CPAP

Which is Better: CPAP or BiPAP and Why?

There are many factors that can determine which type of machine will be better for you. It is important you first consult with your doctor so they can give you an accurate diagnosis of how severe your sleep apnea is.

Although the type of therapy you end up using depends on your personal health needs as recommended by your doctor, your personal comfort matters too. If you are struggling to adjust to CPAP, BiPAP may be the ideal alternative for a more restful sleep. The most important thing is to prioritize getting the best therapy necessary for a successful night's sleep and better health overall.

How Much Does CPAP or BiPAP Cost?

CPAP is less expensive with CPAP machines ranging from $385 to $849. If BiPAP therapy is required, you will pay more with BiPAP machines running from $1,700 to $3,500.

Ask Your Doctor About the Benefits of BiPAP and CPAP

Ultimately, your doctor’s recommendations will decide which therapy you need most. The experts at The CPAP Shop can help you find the right machine, whether CPAP or BiPAP, to fit your prescription. You can also speak directly to one of our expert customer service agents but calling us at 866-414-9700.

Chris Vasta

Chris Vasta is the president of The CPAP Shop and an expert in sleep and respiratory therapy. He often provides insights on product design and functionality on various manufacturers’ prototypes and is frequently tapped to provide reviews on new releases.