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New User Basics
If you suspect you have Sleep Apnea, speak with your general care doctor or sleep doctor. Your doctor may refer you to a sleep lab for a sleep study. Based on your sleep study results, your doctor may diagnose you with Sleep Apnea and prescribe sleep therapy. As a patient, realize you have a right to a copy of both your prescription and your sleep study. You have the choice to use insurance coverage to get equipment or to pay cash through an internet retailer. Generally, internet retailers offer more choices and better pricing than local dealers. CPAP.com offers user reviews, return insurance and many other benefits local distributors are unable to offer.
New User Basics FAQs
- How long will I have to use CPAP?
- Using a CPAP machine treats OSA, it is not a cure. It is very important to remember that this is therapy and therapy is continuous. CPAP therapy is still today, the most recommended and the most effective treatment for obstructive sleep apnea.
- If I lose weight, will I cure my OSA?
- The answer to this question depends on the person. Some people report experiencing less severe or cured sleep apnea after losing weight. Others report no change in their sleep apnea with weight lose. Most experience other benefits by losing weight healthily. Losing weight is good for your overall health when done properly.
- I'm a new user, what do I need to buy?
For new users we offer a CPAP Starter Pack that includes both the CPAP machine and mask.
During your CPAP therapy you may find that your needs require additional elements. More advanced and comfortable setups also include humidifiers, machine software, CPAP mask strap pads, chinstraps, insulated hose coverings, extra filters, and comfort & cleaning accessories.
- Are prescriptions required for mask, machine, humidifier, and EPAP purchases?
Yes. Federal law requires we have a valid prescription on file before we ship your mask, machine, humidifier, or EPAP therapy, including Provent and Bongo RX. You will also need a prescription to purchase the Nightbalance POSA device.
We provide many easy ways to get your prescription:
- We can request your prescription for you! When you checkout, just let us know you would like us to request your prescription, or you can log into your account to have us request your prescription.
- Fax your prescription to our toll-free fax number: 866.353.2727, or our international fax number: 713.541.7377
- Email your prescription to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Upload your prescription in your account, under the Prescriptions Section
- Ask your doctor to fill out our prescription form. We have both a standard prescription form and an EPAP prescription form.
For more information on prescriptions, please see our Prescription Section of the Learning Center.
- What comes with my machine?
Machines come with a six foot hose, power cord, at least one filter, and manuals. Most manufacturers include a carrying case which is designed specifically for their equipment. CPAP, APAP, and BiPAP machines do not come with a delivery system or mask. CPAP masks must be purchased separately.
To see the list of what specifically comes with each machine, you can Browse for a machine. Then on the product page, click the "Specs" tab to see a full list of what comes with the machine.
- Why is air leaking from my mouth?
Air leaks from the mouth whenever the mouth is opened during CPAP therapy. This occurs for many reasons, but a very common one is due to nasal irritation from the CPAP airflow.
The correlation between the lack of humidification and mouth leaks is a topic being heavily researched. Studies are now being conducted on the hypothesis that a large amount of mouth leakage is caused by the following cycle:
- CPAP therapy is used with ineffective or no humidification.
- The nasal membranes are unable to adequately condition the increased airflow and after a few minutes the airway and nasal passages become dry.
- To remedy the dryness and obtain moisture, the body uses the mouth to breathe.
- CPAP air follows the path of least resistance and leaks out of the open mouth.
- The air leaking through the mouth causes more dryness.
- Patient wakes up feeling tired with significant dryness in mouth and dry, swollen nasal passages.
The answer to this cycle is humidification. If the mouth continues to open during sleep, a chinstrap may be needed to hold the jaw up so that the mouth can close. If mouth breathing continues, a full face mask that covers the nose and mouth is indicated.
- Why do I wake up to find my mask is off?
People tend to remove their masks during sleep because they are not getting enough air.
The CPAP pressure may be reduced if your mask is leaking. Your mask may be too big or too old. We would suggest you resize your mask to be sure you have the best fit. If your mask fits, but it is six to nine months old, it should be replaced. As the silicone in the mask cushion ages, it deteriorates and becomes too soft to hold a seal. For many masks, you can get a replacement cushion. See our Replacement Part Finder to see if your mask has a replaceable cushion.
If the CPAP air is being delivered effectively and without leaks, it may be that the pressure is set too low. Pressure settings may require change due to weight gain or loss and aging. You should speak to your doctor if you think your pressure may need to be adjusted.
An auto-adjusting CPAP machine (APAP) may be another solution. An APAP machine will provide the minimum amount of pressure required to keep your airway open on a breath-by-breath basis. With an APAP you can be sure your machine is always providing the correct amount of pressure needed.
Here are some of the APAP machines we carry:
Transcend Auto MiniCPAP Machine
AirSense 10 AutoSet CPAP Machine
PR System One REMStar 60 Series Auto
+ See More
- What travel tips should I know?
CPAP therapy should be used every night. Your CPAP or BiPAP machine and equipment should go with you on trips. There are some tips to help with your travel:
- Remove Water From The Humidifier. If you are going to take your CPAP humidifier with you, remove ALL water from the humidifier chamber. Water left in the humidifier chamber can be tipped into your machine and cause damage.
- Accompany Your CPAP Through Security. Stay with your CPAP machine. When going through security, security agents will usually need to inspect the CPAP separately. Ask to stay with the CPAP. This way you can watch them handle the CPAP machine, and you can make sure all of your parts (cords, masks, chambers, filters) get back into the bag.
- Plan Your Power Needs. Know what type of power your CPAP requires. If you are going to use a battery, make sure you have all the parts needed to safely run the CPAP on battery power. If you are traveling abroad make sure you have an international adapter plug. Check out the Power Solutions section of the FAQ for more information.
- Identify Your CPAP as Medical Equipment. To help move through security easier, put a medical equipment tag on your CPAP bag. We offer a Medical Equipment Luggage Tag.
- Carry a Medical Alert Card. When traveling or handling daily tasks, it is good to carry a medical alert card in your wallet. The card will inform emergency personnel that you have obstructive sleep apnea. We offer a Medical Alert Card.
- Pack Your Power Cord. Just like people commonly leave cell phone chargers at home or in the hotel, we frequently get calls from travelers who have left their CPAP power cord behind. Check to make sure your cord is packed with your machine before you leave home and when heading back home.
- Bring Spare Parts and Back Up Mask. Like the power cord, items get left behind or misplaced while on the road. Having spare parts and a back up mask will ensure you are not caught without equipment.
- Call Us If You Leave Something. CPAP.com delivers all over the US and to most international destinations. This includes to hotels and resorts. We also have expedited shipping options. If you are in a bind, give us a call 800.356.5221.
- How do I prepare for plane travel with CPAP?
Your CPAP does NOT count against your carry on limits. Allow for an additional 10-20 minutes in security, not likely but it happens. If airport personnel ask about the CPAP, let them know politely that it is a medical device (a CPAP unit). Most of them understand what it is and that it is an exception to the normal rules. We provide a luggage tag for CPAP systems that can help with identifying your equipment.
You can use your CPAP on board, just use batteries or make sure you're seated by a power outlet. You can call or reserve one of these seats online with most airlines.
Be sure to bring spare parts and a back up mask. If you're in a bind, CPAP.com delivers all over the US and to most international destinations.
- Do I have to use CPAP every time I sleep?
Yes. Using CPAP therapy every night and during naps will increase the effectiveness of therapy, which will lead to an improvement in your mood and energy levels. Remember that even during a short rest your air passage is obstructed and being without oxygen is harmful to your health both short and long term. To avoid the side effects of untreated Sleep Apnea use your CPAP each time you sleep.
It will get easier, and become second nature to you if you stick with CPAP and surround yourself with support. CPAPtalk.com is a free sleep apnea patient forum we maintain. It is a great source of advice and support at any hour of the night or day.
- What are the benefits of using a humidifier?
Many CPAP users experience nasal congestion and dryness of the nose and throat during treatment. This can be especially problematic for new users who are adapting to treatment. Humidification adds moisture to the air helping to reduce the symptoms of dryness and congestion.
Nasal congestion also leads to mouth breathing, which perpetuates the problem of dryness. If this is an issue for you, try a heated humidifier.
- How Do I Get a CPAP Machine?
Getting a CPAP machine isn't hard, but there are some steps to go through before getting one.
Getting a Sleep Apnea Diagnosis
In order to get a CPAP machine, a person needs to first be diagnosed with Sleep Apnea. The path to getting a Sleep Apnea diagnosis usually involves an appointment with a sleep doctor, who will order a sleep study to test the number of blockages in the person's airway during the night. Sleep studies can either be done at home, or depending on the specific circumstances, the doctor may order the sleep study be done in a sleep lab. The sleep study will also check the blood oxygen levels during sleep to see if a person is getting enough oxygen. The results of the sleep study will be used to make a possible Sleep Apnea diagnosis. It's important to point out, simply snoring is not a guarantee that a person has Sleep Apnea. Other symptoms must also be present as well in order to get a firm diagnosis including: daytime drowsiness, fatigue, suddenly falling asleep while driving or bored, or waking up gasping or choking.
Once the sleep study confirms a person has Sleep Apnea, the doctor will recommend a course of treatment. Typically, a doctor will prescribe the use of a CPAP, APAP, or BiPAP machine for use while sleeping. These devices blow gently pressurized air into the airway, opening it up so blockages are removed and air can reach the lungs.
Getting a CPAP Machine
Once a person has a CPAP prescription in hand, he or she can now order a CPAP machine. The prescription will usually specify the kind of machine used for therapy. A CPAP prescription will allow customers to purchase a CPAP or an APAP machine. An APAP prescription allows for the purchase of an APAP machine, and a prescription for a BiPAP machine can be used to purchase a BiPAP machine. A CPAP prescription alone cannot allow for purchase of a BiPAP machine. Purchasing a new CPAP machine can be done using insurance or from a CPAP supplier such as CPAP,com. CPAP.com specializes in providing CPAP machines for buyers who want to use cash or credit card to purchase a CPAP machine, and does not directly bill insurance. This offers our customers a cost savings over going the traditional insurance route, and allows for complete control over the quality and type of machine used as part of treatment.
- How Do I Use a CPAP Machine?
Using a CPAP machine isn't difficult. Follow these steps to setup and use your CPAP machine for the first time:
- Install the machine's filters, if not already installed. It may be necessary to review the user manual for the machine to complete this step.
- Connect the hose to the air outlet on the machine.
- Take the other end of the hose and connect it to the CPAP mask at the elbow or short tube. Depending on the mask, it could be placed in the front of the mask or even on top of the head.
- With the hose connected, it's now time to put on the mask. Many masks are put on by sliding the headgear over the back of the head, then bringing the front of the mask down over the face.
- Position the mask so it creates a seal around the nose or mouth (depending on the mask style), and adjust the straps until the fit feels firm while avoiding over-tightening.
- Some machines turn on automatically when detecting breathing, while others may need to be manually turned on. Try taking a few breaths with the mask on, and see if the machine turns on. If not, it may need to be manually turned usually with a start button near the top of the machine.
- Are CPAP Machines Ventilators?
CPAP machines are not the same thing as a ventilator. Ventilators help people breathe when they have a condition impacting normal respiration, such as pneumonia, COPD or other lung ailments. This is different from the intended purpose of a CPAP machine, a device supporting breathing only during sleep, while a ventilator is intended for 24 hour respiratory support.
- How Do I Put on My CPAP Mask?
Putting on a CPAP mask is easy to do, and we'll tell you how:
- Slide the headgear over the back of the head.
- Position the mask over the nose, mouth, or nostrils; (depending on the mask style used).
- Connect the headgear to the front of the mask by using the clips towards the front of the headgear straps.
- Tighten the mask until firm, but avoid over-tightening. This is usually done by adjusting the headgear straps once the mask is in place.
The fit should feel firm, but not painfully so. Over-tightening can cause irritation, so it's important to not tighten the straps too tight. It's also important to check the seal once the mask is on and the machine is running. Leaks can negate the positive benefits a person gets from therapy, which is why it's important to make sure there are none before going to sleep.
- How Do I Get Used to Wearing a CPAP Mask?
A CPAP mask can feel unnatural when first starting CPAP therapy. The pressure on the face, and the bulk of a mask may force a person to change a usual sleeping position, and it can be hard to sleep. Here are some tips for how to get used to a CPAP mask:
- Try wearing the mask around the house, even when not preparing for sleep. It will help reduce sensitivity, and make the mask feel more natural.
- It may be helpful to start using a CPAP pillow. These are special pillows with cutouts designed to accommodate a bulky mask, and can help a person maintain a normal sleep position.
- If feeling claustrophobic, it may help to use a mask with an open field of vision. These masks typically don't have any material over the bridge of the nose, and some even forego using a forehead strap. Masks of this type can make it easier for a person who is claustrophobic to fall asleep faster.
- Practice lying down while wearing the mask, even when it's not time for bed. Experiment with getting comfortable, and try to find ways to coexist with the mask. This will help when it comes time to fall asleep.
- Try to have a positive attitude about the mask. When CPAP therapy works and is effective, the benefits will greatly outweigh the costs. Having an open mind and a positive outlook will go a long way to getting used to the mask.
- What Size CPAP Mask Do I Need?
The best mask size is going to depend a lot on an individuals face, and will usually require measuring. Many masks manufacturers will publish a mask sizing guide, used to help measure the face to determine the best CPAP mask fit. Some masks have a small or medium frame, and most have small, medium, or large cushions. Some masks even go as far as having medium wide and petite mask cushions!
To further help in choosing a size, some masks are available in fit packs which include multiple sizes so that each size can be tried to determine the best fit.
- Does CPAP Stop Snoring?
Using a CPAP machine can reduce or eliminate snoring among Sleep Apnea users who remain compliant with their therapy. The snoring reduction happens because the CPAP machine acts as a splint, helping prop the airway open during sleep, preventing the vibrations causing snoring. Current CPAP users who experience snoring on a consistent basis may want to discuss this further with a medical professional, as snoring with CPAP could be a sign the treatment is not working.
- How Long Does It Take for CPAP to Work?
Every person's experience with Sleep Apnea is going to be different. There are differences in Sleep Apnea's severity, sleeping position, and in how a person breathes during sleep. All these differences really mean CPAP treatment isn't one-size-fits all, and one person's results may not be the same as another person. For some, CPAP will start working instantly, and noticeable benefits will be there after the first night. For others, CPAP therapy will take some time before it becomes effective.
There are always going to be struggles as a person gets started with CPAP therapy. Most people struggle with getting used to the mask, or having to change sleep positions because the bulk of the mask gets in the way. Over time, most people can adjust to these changes and begin to see benefits shortly after treatment first begins. Seeing any results from CPAP therapy is also going to depend on how faithful a person is at using the CPAP machine. Regular use (or attempted use) will go a long way to getting used to the equipment, and it's the only true way to get any benefit from the therapy. The more a CPAP machine is used, the better a person can feel.
- How Can I Tell if CPAP is Working?
When CPAP therapy is working, a CPAP user may notice the following:
- Greatly Improved Energy
- Lower Fatigue
- Lower Blood Pressure
- Less Brain Fog
- Decreased Need for Caffeine
- Reduced Drowsiness While Driving or Bored
It won't be hard to figure out if CPAP therapy is working. There will be many very noticeable differences in a person's mood and energy levels if CPAP is working. Here are some signs CPAP is not working:
- Continued Snoring, Even When Using the CPAP Machine
- Feelings of Being Tired During the Day
- Blood Pressure Remains High
- Falling Asleep While Driving or Bored
- Continued High AHI Levels
The truest way to tell if CPAP therapy is working is by tracking the AHI reading within the CPAP machine's data. If nightly AHI readings are higher than 5, it's a sign therapy isn't working. An AHI reading below 5 is considered normal. If CPAP therapy isn't working, it's not always a sign therapy should be discontinued. Most of the time, a doctor or medical professional can make changes to therapy such as increasing therapy pressure or recommending a change like positional therapy to help bring down a high AHI. Many times, adjustments to CPAP therapy can fix the problem, and help get back on track.
New User Basics Video
- What is Sleep Apnea?
- Introduction to Sleep Apnea
- Introduction to the Sleep Lab
- Introduccion al Laboratorio de Sueno Apnea
- CPAP, APAP and BiPAP Machines Introduction
- Introduction To OSA
- Setting Up your CPAP
- How to Clean and Maintain your CPAP Equipment
- Chinstraps for CPAP Masks Introduction
- Rainout, Causes & Solutions
- Filter Installation
CPAP Users Say
CPAPtalk.com CPAP User Discussions
Did You Know?, New User Basics
- Apnea in Greek, literally translates to "without breath."
- Sleep Apnea causes a desaturation of oxygen in blood. Oximeters can detect the oxygen saturation in your blood, and is a good indicator of how your therapy is going.
- It is estimated eighteen million Americans have Sleep Apnea. That's one in eleven!
- For sleep apnea concerns, visit our online forum, www.cpaptalk.com.
New User Basics Articles
CPAPtalk.com Wiki Articles
- Working with Physicians, Insurance and DMEs
- Tips for Wearing a Mask and Using CPAP for the First Time
- List of CPAP Essentials
- Adjusting to CPAP: The Seven Stages
- Don't Give Up!
- Improve Your Sleep with the Basics
- Learn From Others' Experiences
- Mask Leaks
- Claustrophobia: Sleeping with the Enemy
- Building Your CPAP Support Team
- Questions to ask your Doctor and Sleep Tech
- The occurrence of sleep-disordered breathing among middle-aged adults.
- Get Down To Size: Success at a Heavy Price
- Snoring is More Than Loud
- Increased incidence of cardiovascular disease in middle-aged men with obstructive sleep apnea: a 7-year follow-up.
- Obstructive sleep apnea - Treatment
- Surgical Treatments for Sleep Apnea
- Research Spotlight: The Positive Effects of CPAP Therapy
- Educate your Family and Friends about Sleep Apnea
- Sleep Tips: CPAP Therapy is Hard Enough Get the Basics Right
- Sleep Apnea and Related Health Issues
- EZ Breathing Technology: Understand Flex features and more
- The Redesigned CPAPtalk.com
- 5 Common CPAP Pitfalls To Avoid
- CPAPtalk Product Challenge Introduced
- CPAPtalk is your place for support and advice