If you have been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), you may have been told you need a home CPAP machine. You may be under the impression these machines are big, bulky, uncomfortable, and noisy, but CPAP machines have come a long way. What’s more, the benefits of CPAP machines can help you improve your quality of sleep and overall health.
If you are feeling hesitant about starting your CPAP treatment, it may help to understand what CPAP machines are and how they work
How Do CPAP Machines Work?
A CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machine uses air pressure to keep the airway open during sleep. They work by blowing air through a hose that is attached to a CPAP mask that attaches to the face by Velcro straps.
CPAP machines can be adjusted to allow for different pressures. The ideal pressure is often determined during a sleep study, also known as a CPAP titration study, designed to calibrate your air pressure setting. Many top-rated CPAP machines use algorithms and pressure sensors to determine the best pressure.
Many CPAP machines have the option for “ramp time,” meaning that when the machine is turned on, it has the ability to start at a low pressure, and slowly increase the pressure until it reaches the patient’s prescribed level of pressure. This makes the pressure more tolerable for some people, giving them a chance to get used to the increasing pressure.
Buying Your Own Home CPAP Machine
Home CPAP machines range from about $500 – $3000, with an estimated average price around $850. They also vary in size, although most devices are about the size of a lunch box. You can also get small CPAP machines or travel CPAP machines to suit your lifestyle needs.
When purchasing a home CPAP machine, especially your first, it’s important to get a quality device from a reputable manufacturer. By talking with your doctor and the durable medical equipment (DME) specialists at your sleep clinic, you can find a warrantied CPAP machine with the features you need, in your price range.
Here are some of the top-rated CPAP machines you may want to consider.
DreamStation CPAP with Heated Tube and Humidifier
Respironics DreamStation Go CPAP Machine
DreamStation CPAP Pro with Humidifier
Philips DreamStation CPAP Pro
How to Clean and Maintain Your CPAP Machine
You should sanitize your home CPAP machine parts regularly to prevent the buildup of germs and mold. Simply washing the CPAP parts in soapy water after every use can keep the equipment at its best. You can also use CPAP cleaners that automatically clean and sanitize your sleep apnea mask and machine. Most of these cleaners do not use water, but rather use activated oxygen and/or UV light. You will want to keep your CPAP clean in order to prolong its use.
If cared for appropriately, home CPAP machines may last for several years. Some top-rated CPAP machines have lasted over a decade. Some health insurance companies will allow for purchasing a new machine every five years, although the filters and tubing should be replaced more frequently. Generally, filters should be replaced several times per year.
Common CPAP Machine Problems
There are many benefits of CPAP machines, after all they can eliminate sleep apnea and improve the quality of your sleep. Most people find their home CPAP machines quite comfortable to use and adjust well to wearing them each night while they sleep. But in some cases, CPAP causes a few unwanted side effects.
Although the side effects from CPAP are not usually serious, they can be annoying. Luckily, there are several ways you can combat common side effects so you enjoy only the benefits of CPAP machines.
Dry Mouth or Nose
The continuous flow of air delivered by a CPAP machine can be drying. Waking up each morning with a dry mouth or nose can be irritating. But there is usually an easy fix.
Solution: Using heated humidification with your home CPAP machine adds warm moisture to the air and eases dryness. Some top-rated CPAP machines have built-in humidifiers. If your CPAP machine does not include a humidifier, you can get an attachment. Remember to use distilled or sterile water when filling the humidifier.
Occasionally the air that is supposed to go into your lungs may go into your stomach instead. Excess air in the belly can lead to bloating and gas. No one wants to wake up belching.
Solution: If you feel stomach bloating is a problem and think it’s due to your CPAP machine and not what you ate, talk with your doctor about slightly decreasing the pressure setting on your home CPAP machine.
Starting Out With a CPAP Machine
Getting quality sleep is important for physical and mental health and if you have OSA, a home CPAP machine may be the answer for you. There are numerous benefits of CPAP machines and many patients have found that these devices have solved their sleep apnea and snoring issues.
If you cannot seem to adapt to your home CPAP machine, talk with your doctor to make sure you have the right pressure and fit. You can also consider trying alternative treatments to CPAP machines.
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