As with many confusing devices, it’s best if you can look at the actual devices and compare them. Also, don’t think too hard about it. It’ll just make things more confusing!
Both of these devices provide oxygen with extra oomph (the scientific term would be “pressure”). CPAP has one continuous pressure setting, so will, for example, always provide 10 mm H2O pressure. BiPap can provide different levels of pressure depending on the inspiratory/expiratory phase.
That’s pretty much it.
Here are some clinical points:
- CPAP is indicated for obstructive sleep apnea and congestive heart failure
- Bipap may be more comfortable for some people
- NEVER give Bipap to someone who needs to be intubated, because Bipap is an UNSECURED airway!
Bonus question: what is the difference between Bipap and CPAP on a vent? (Answer: it would be the same thing. CPAP on a vent would provide continuous oxygen flow at different inspiratory and expiratory pressures.)