CPAP Machines


Once a person has been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea, the likely recommended treatment will be a CPAP machine for traditional CPAP therapy. CPAP machines have a very high success rate and many patients see improved sleep and quality of life after their first night.


A CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machine is an air compressor that delivers a continuous flow of pressurized air to the patient through a nasal or a full face CPAP mask. The unique pressure setting is determined by a physician who specializes in sleep disorders and is specific to the patient's requirements. The flow of pressurized air keeps the patient’s airway open during sleep, preventing the airway from being obstructing and allowing a full and restful night’s sleep.


The CPAP machine itself is around the size of a shoebox, or smaller, and runs very quietly to prevent any disturbance to the user. It uses normal air, although models that feed pure oxygen are also available for patients with respiratory disorders.


Choosing a CPAP Machine


There are many CPAP machine manufacturers, each with several models offering different feature selections. Talk to your doctor about what features you will need for your unique obstructive sleep apnea diagnosis. Also consult your medical insurance to confirm which features they cover.


Listed below are some common features and options available for your CPAP machine:


  • Humidifier: A CPAP humidifier delivers moist air and may be less irritating to the nasal passages.
  • Data Logging: Data logging allows a doctor or technician to verify that the machine is working properly and the patient is getting the pressure required for proper treatment of sleep apnea. Some of these write the data to a removable card that can be taken to the doctor or sleep center for download, and others can transmit their data automatically through phone lines or direct Internet connection.
  • Travel Pack: If you travel a lot, it is important to choose a CPAP that will travel well with you. Some have adjustable pressure for different altitudes, the ability to run on DC current from a car or boat battery, or to run on foreign currents.
  • Advanced Air Pressure Settings: A more sophisticated CPAP device is called a BiPAP machine. This uses two different pressures: one when the sleeper is breathing in and one when breathing out.
  • CPAP Masks: Choosing the mask is a separate decision from selecting the machine and it is not uncommon to use a machine from one manufacturer and a mask from another.


Care and Maintenance


Although these devices are fairly maintenance-free, your CPAP machine should be inspected regularly to ensure proper function. Filters should be replaced often and the humidifier must be kept free of mold and algae. The hoses and masks of your CPAP machine should be inspected weekly for wear and buildup of particulate matter. The electrical connections should be checked for damage that could present a shock or fire hazard.


Peer Support


Sometimes talking to other CPAP users is more helpful than advice from an expert, who may not have ever personally used one of the devices. A support group such A.W.A.K.E. can be a source of invaluable information on adjusting the CPAP machine and mask to help you get the optimal sleep experience.


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