Key Tips for Using a BiPAP Machine for Breathing Disorders

Published: 05th April 2011
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Individuals whose sleep patterns or ability to sleep comfortably and deeply may be disrupted by breathing difficulties, can be helped by using a medical device known as a BiPAP machine. This machine was developed in the 1980s as a non-invasive way to assist patients with such breathing disorders as sleep apnea and Chronic Obstructive Pumonary Disease (COPD). The BiPAP, which stands for bi-level positive airway pressure, is considered a non-invasive ventilatory assist machine, because it helps the individual using it without having to insert breathing tubes directly into the body. The machine works by providing the user with positive air pressure during inhaled breaths and lowered air pressure during each exhaled breath, by having the patient wear a mask connected to an airflow tube.

Although designated for home use, a BiPAP machine is only designed for use by an individual who has received a medical diagnosis by a physician for some sort of breathing disorder such as COPD. If medical testing indicates the patient can be helped by using one of these machines, then a prescription will be written in order for the patient to obtain the device. After the machine is delivered to the patient's home, it is vital to have either a respiratory therapist or a nurse from a home health agency offer at least some minimal instructions on the proper use of it.

The machine itself doesn't take up a lot of room, and can usually be positioned on a table or night stand near the patient's bed. Some machines are outfitted with lightweight nasal pillow masks, which have the least facial contact, which some patients find the most comfortable. Other units come with full face masks that cover both the nose and the mouth in order to assist with breathing. The mask selected should fit comfortably enough, yet not allow any air to escape. The tubing connected to either mask, helps control the intake and outflow of air into the patient during sleep, and comes in a variety of lengths for the best comfort of the patient. Each patient should discuss their particular needs with his nurse or respiratory therapist in order to use a machine that will be the most quiet, efficient and helpful for their breathing needs.

Once the recommended settings have been set on the machine, it is important for the patient to leave these settings alone and not change them without instructions from their doctor or respiratory therapist, for best results. Investing in a backup generator to operate the machine during any periods of power failure, is important for any patient who relies on this type of therapy since the machine needs electricity to operate properly.

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