Get To Know Your NIV Machine

Non-Invasive Ventilation is a Proven-Effective Treatment for COPD. Here’s What You Need to Know About Your Device

Since the 1980s, non-invasive ventilation (NIV) has been a proven safe and effective treatment for COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), including chronic bronchitis and emphysema, and for respiratory conditions that cause acute or chronic respiratory failure.

It’s called “non-invasive” because there’s no need for an “intubation,” a procedure where your physician inserts a tube through your mouth or nose to help you breathe.  

Studies show that NIV reduces the risk of infection and complications of intubations, improves survival rates, and decreases the length of hospital stays in people with COPD.

Plus, NIV can be customized to your specific needs:

  • Provides breathing support during the day, night, or both
  • Use at home or in a hospital setting
  • Conveniently portable, so it goes where you go

Have questions about NIV? Want to know more? You’ve come to the right place!

How Does NIV Work?

There are several different modes and types of non-invasive ventilation and they each play a key role in treating specific diseases. All NIV modes require a mask to deliver pressure. However, pressure along with a target lung volume is what differentiates Respiratory Assist Devices (RAD) and the NIV therapy you may have been prescribed. 

First let’s talk about the two modes and what they can do:  

RAD (BiLevel or BiPAP™) can be used to treat obstructive sleep apnea and COPD. With RAD there are 2 set pressures. One pressure is set for when you breathe in (IPAP) and the other pressure is set to maintain as you breathe out (EPAP). These pressure settings can help reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in your blood by allowing a deeper breath. 

The other type of therapy for COPD is NIV. NIV is more advanced than RAD/BiLevel/BiPAP™. NIV will deliver a specific volume ordered by your physician, whereas a RAD will not. NIV also offers more options for the respiratory therapist to adjust your therapy based on your specific needs.  

How Does NIV Differ from CPAP?

You may have heard of CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure), which is commonly used to treat sleep apnea.

Like BiLevel/RAD, and NIV, CPAP requires you to wear a mask attached to a machine. Unlike the other therapies, CPAP delivers a constant flow of air at one pressure setting as you inhale and exhale to keep airways open. 

So every breath you take is completely dependent on your respiratory muscles and not the CPAP machine.

How Does NIV Differ from Regular Oxygen Therapy?

The purpose of both RAD and NIV is to help you use more of your lung capacity so you can take deeper breaths and breathe more easily.  

The purpose of oxygen therapy (also called supplemental oxygen) is to deliver oxygen to your lungs and blood to help you perform daily activities.

NIV is administered by a specific NIV device. Oxygen therapy is delivered by one of the following:

  • Compressed oxygen stores oxygen in a metal tank as gas under pressure
  • Liquid oxygen uses compressed, frozen oxygen that turns into gas when it’s released
  • Oxygen concentrators separate and remove nitrogen from the air around you to deliver purified oxygen

Oxygen is generally delivered via a nasal cannula (a thin tube) inserted into your nostrils or a facemask.

What Are the Components of Your NIV Machine?

Your doctor will prescribe a NIV device. Additional components include:

  • Mask: several types are available, including full-face masks that cover your mouth and nose, nasal masks that cover just your nose, and nasal pillow masks that fit into your nostrils. Work with your doctor to select the ideal style for you—one that fits your face securely and comfortably.
  • Anti-bacterial filter: captures germs, dirt, and other contaminants to reduce the risk of infection.
  • Tubing: connects your mask to the NIV device. Some tubing is heated to keep the pressurized air you breathe warm and moist for increased comfort.
  • Exhalation port: a spring-loaded valve that helps prevent oxygen or water backflow to the device.
    Heated humidifier: adds warmth and moisture to prevent nose and mouth dryness. 

How Will NIV Benefit You?

NIV is not a cure for COPD or other respiratory conditions, but it does offer a broad range of important health advantages:

  • Decreases shortness of breath
  • Improves sleep quantity and quality
  • Increases energy and alertness
  • Reduces daytime sleepiness
  • Produces a better mood and attitude
  • Decreases headaches
  • Manages blood pressure levels
  • Increases independence in daily living
  • Improves concentration and productivity at work, home, and school

NIV Now!

For people with COPD and other respiratory conditions, non-invasive ventilation is often the treatment of choice by healthcare professionals. 

At first, you may find adjusting to NIV challenging. But it helps if you begin slowly, using the machine for a few hours each day and then gradually increasing the time. Your doctor will guide you on the proper use of your device to get the best results from your therapy. 

As a leader in respiratory care, Apria is available at any time to help with any questions!

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Lesley Williams

Lesley has been a Registered Respiratory Therapist for 35 years. In her role here at Apria, Lesley trains clinical staff with new equipment and supports clinical program initiatives in the Southeastern United States. In her free time you can find Lesley spending time with her kids and grandkids, or out enjoying the sun on her boat.

About the AuthorLesley Williams