What Does APAP Stand For

Learn more about CPAP mask selection.

When a doctor prescribes a sleep apnea machine, you may wonder, "What does APAP stand for?" The more common type of sleep apnea device is a CPAP, or Continuous Positive Airway Pressure device. An APAP, or Auto-titrating Positive Airway Pressure, device is more advanced and able to aid individuals with complex needs.

What Does APAP Stand For and Do

An APAP device monitors and changes pressure to fit the patient's needs. The following are the three most common types of PAP (Positive Airflow Pressure) devices.

  • CPAP: The Continuous Positive Airway Pressure device is a small machine that generates a flow of air at a regular, continuous pressure. A doctor prescribes the appropriate pressure setting for the patient based on the patient's specific needs. This is usually derived from an overnight sleep study. The device maintains this same amount of pressure from the time it is put on until taken off. To maintain pressure, the CPAP uses an air compressor.
  • BiPAP: A Bilevel Positive Airway Pressure device is a bit different because it is operated by an electronic circuit. This circuit monitors the patient's breathing. It offers two different pressures. One is higher and used for inspiration, when breaths are taken in. The other is a low pressure setting used for expiration. Those who have difficulty exhaling using a traditional CPAP device often use it.
  • APAP: The Auto-titrating Positive Airway Pressure device is advanced because it can adjust automatically to the patient's needs. This device is designed to incorporate pressure and vibration sensors. These sensors are able to monitor the patient's breathing performance continuously. It constantly adjusts the pressure to meet the patient's changing needs. It increases the pressure when the patient tries to breath but cannot. It decreases the pressure when the pressure is higher than is necessary.

APAP Device Better for Some

The APAP device is a better option for some individuals. Many patients state that the APAP device is a better option because it is more comfortable to use. Those who struggle to breathe out with a CPAP device may find it easier to breathe using the APAP device. It also better reacts to changing circumstances. It can work for various apneas, snoring problems and flow limitations better than other devices.The largest benefit to using this device is that it automatically adjusts on a breath-by-breath basis. Many things can affect the amount of pressure needed.

  • Changing sleep positions may block airways more so than others may. The patient is able to have more variety in their sleep position using the APAP.
  • Depth of sleep can also cause changes in pressure needs. The sleep cycle causes changes in the body including breathing pattern changes.
  • Weight gain or loss can also change pressure needs. Those who may be losing weight, for example, may need to have the pressure changed.
  • Those with seasonal allergies will benefit from APAP devices.
  • Individuals taking medications affecting breathing patterns may require this device.
  • Those who suffer from significant fluid level changes will benefit. This includes those with heart failure and kidney problems where fluid levels change as often as hourly at significant levels.

What to Look For

What does APAP stand for? There are a number of manufacturers offering APAP devices. Each product is unique, but there are some features likely to be found on most of these products.

Get Better Sleep with an APAP Device
  • Breath by breath sensors to adjust pressure according to specific airway needs, which is called auto-titration
  • Humidification may be available to help make breathing more comfortable
  • Setting ability to allow patients to set the device to turn on at a specific time, so they can fall asleep prior to the device turning on
  • Sound reduction to keep the device quiet
  • Some devices are lightweight and modular so they can be used for traveling

The features do make these devices more expensive compared to CPAP devices. Individuals struggling with their ability to breathe well using other PAP devices may wish to speak with their physician about the potential benefits an APAP device may offer.

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What Does APAP Stand For