How does NIV work?

How does NIV work?

NIV (also known as BiPAP) is a way of supporting your breathing, using a portable machine that helps increase the airflow into your lungs.

Non Invasive Ventilation (NIV) is a way of making sure that each breath you take is a bit fuller by delivering the air under slight pressure via a face mask. You may well have heard of NIV being used for people with sleep apnoea. A very similar type of NIV is used for people with MND. NIV is delivered using a Bi-level Positive Airways Pressure (BiPAP) machine.

‘Bi-level’ simply means the machine cycle has two stages. As you breathe in, the BiPAP machine detects this and pushes some extra air into the lungs under slight pressure. As you breathe out, the machine detects this too and reduces the pressure a little, allowing you to breathe out more easily. By using the NIV machine to add a bit of pressure, your body is able to take a fuller breath with no more effort, which can be useful if your breathing muscles are weakened due to MND.

This makes NIV ideal to use when you are sleeping, when your breathing is affected by muscle weakness during deep sleep. The extra boost in air flow to your lungs helps you breathe more effectively, and you are able to get a decent night’s sleep again.

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How does NIV work?

The word ventilation can be a confusing term to hear

Although the name NIV includes the word ventilation, it is not actually the same kind of ventilator that people associate with intensive care and life support. The NIV machine does not actually breathe for you, it only supplements your breathing. This means if the machine is switched off by accident (e.g. a power cut), or you remove your mask in the night, you will still carry on breathing normally.

How does NIV work?

Watch this short film on how NIV works, from people like you who are using NIV and their carers.