Common CPAP Machine Questions
A CPAP machine is a device used to treat Sleep Apnea. CPAP is an acronym that stands for "Continuous Positive Airway Pressure" and is regarded by experts as being the best way to treat Sleep Apnea. Sleep Apnea is a condition where a person's airway relaxes during sleep, and in this relaxed state partially or completely blocks the airway. These blockages can cause the person to wake up as the body fights to breathe. If this process happens hundreds of times a night, not only does one not sleep well, but they also have increased chances of higher blood pressure, and are at greater risk for heart attack or stroke.
CPAP machines have an internal motor which provides air pressure to help keep the airway open throughout the night, assisting in getting the adequate amount of air to the lungs. This means less choking, gasping, and waking up during the night. It means better sleep, and your body isn't deprived of the oxygen that it needs to keep you healthy. CPAP devices are mostly quiet (under 30 decibels) and some are very small and lightweight - designed with busy lives in mind.
Many CPAP users find that using a CPAP device is a restorative and life-changing treatment. Provided you commit to the treatment, you will see many benefits including:
- Longer, More Restful Sleep
- More Energy
- Less Drowsiness During the Day
- Lower Blood Pressure
- Less Risk of Heart Attack
- Less Risk of Stroke
- Improved Cardiac Function
CPAP machines have 3 different types to choose from, designed to fulfill 3 different needs:
- CPAP Devices: Only blow air at one set pressure ranging from 4 - 20
- APAP Machines: APAP machines blow air at a variable pressure on a breath-by-breath basis ranging from 4 - 20
- BiPAP Machines: BiPAP machines (also known as BiLevels) provide different pressures for inhalation and exhalation ranging from 4 - 25, and can automatically adjust on Auto-Adjusting BiPAPs
The type of machine you get depends on what your prescription says. For example, a prescription for a CPAP machine cannot be used to purchase a BiPAP machine, and vice versa. A prescription for a CPAP machine CAN be used to get an APAP machine. It all depends on how severe your condition is and whether you have complications like Complex Sleep Apnea or Central Sleep Apnea.
That's a really good question, and if you look at current buying trends, the best CPAP machines right now are actually APAP machines! Like we mentioned earlier, APAP machines blow air at a variable pressure on a breath-by-breath basis. This makes them so much more versatile than CPAP machines, and it's a large reason why APAPs are preferred by most patients. Some customers are also interested in travel devices. Travel devices are almost always APAP machines. As the popularity of travel machines increases, we will only see further growth of the APAP machine category.
CPAP therapy devices are considered Class II Medical Devices and are available from CPAP shops called Durable Medical Equipment providers. CPAP machines are also available at online DMEs, like CPAP.com. In order to get one, you need to get a prescription from your doctor. Typically, a doctor would conduct a test known as a sleep study to look at your heart rate, breathing, and blood oxygen levels. Sleep studies are typically done at home or overnight in a Sleep Lab. Home Sleep Tests are growing in popularity and use an electronic device that records your activity. In the morning, you would mail it back to the Sleep Lab and wait for your results. When the results come in, your doctor will know if a CPAP is right for you.
When you get a CPAP device from an insurance company, one thing to watch out for is how much you'll get billed for the total cost. Depending on how your policy is written, there could still be a cost even if you've met your deductible. The total cost can be higher when you get a machine through your insurance company. Insurance companies also get reimbursed the same whether you get a great machine or an average one, so there's little incentive to give you the best machine.
CPAPs are not as loud as you might think. Even though the device motors are a distant cousin of vacuum motors, manufacturers have gone to great lengths to make machines quiet. Many CPAP devices check in at 30 decibels or less, which is considered whisper-quiet. When paired with a quiet mask, it can reduce the overall sound output to a level that will allow you to comfortably sleep.
Sleeping with a CPAP device can feel a little unusual at first, but your body will adjust quickly to the increased pressure, and soon you won't notice the change in pressure. If you notice air escaping from the side of the mask or air blowing on your face, many masks can be easily adjusted to minimize the discomfort. Many CPAP users use humidification to reduce the dry mouth or nose sensation that can happen when using CPAP therapy. Once you start using your machine every night, you'll begin to notice benefits that will improve your everyday life. You may find any annoyances with your therapy are easily outweighed by the benefits.
Here are some of the most common side effects of CPAP therapy:
- Nasal Congestion
- Dry Mouth
It's also worth mentioning that serious side effects are rare when using CPAP therapy. For patients that stick with their treatment, the benefits of CPAP therapy far outweigh the side effects.