Continuous positive air pressure machine, also known as CPAP machine, is used as a treatment for a medical condition known as obstructive sleep apnea. People with this condition experience pauses in breathing during the night, due to narrowing and blocking of the airway.
To help the patients get a good night’s sleep, the CPAP machine ensures the airway is open and there is positive air pressure being regularly produced. The machine sends a continuous airflow into the nose ensuring open airway.
CPAP Machine: 6 Things to Know Before Buying
1. Who Should Use CPAP Machines?
As mentioned before, CPAP stands for ‘continuous positive airway pressure’ and CPAP machines are generally prescribed to patients suffering from obstructive sleep apnea or OSA. CPAP machines have been recognized as the best treatment solution for these patients, so they are designed specifically with sleep apnea in mind.
CPAP machines are a part of the sleep therapy, which is a must for people with OSA; the machines provide enough oxygen throughout the night so the patients can sleep normally, without any breathing obstructions and interruptions.
Note: it is important to mention that due to the unfolding of the COVID-19 cases around the world, there have been proofs that CPAP machines can also be used for coronavirus patients.
They’re believed to be a good alternative to ventilators in less serious COVID-19 cases. CPAP machines do not have the same, sophisticated system function as ventilators, but they seem to work in patients with less serious respiratory issues caused by the virus.
However, this is still up for debate, as no one has any stable proof that CPAP machines contribute to the COVID-19 treatment, so it is best to approach this information with a grain of salt.
2. Who Shouldn’t Use CPAP Machines?
- People with complex sleep apnea – such a case involves a collapsed upper airway where breathing interruptions last up to 10 seconds and appear several times in one hour.
In such a case, the CPAP machine won’t do much, and might even worsen the situation due to drying out of the mouth and the airway. In such rare instances, patients are recommended to try bilevel therapy to resolve the issue.
Bilevel od BIPAP therapy is breathing support used for the treatment of central sleep apnea, congestive heart failure, and underlying issues that occur in such settings, like prior stroke or opioid use.
- People who have insomnia – it is very common that sleep apnea patients often have insomnia as well.
However, insomnia sufferers are recommended to stay away from CPAP machines, because they can struggle with both of their treatments; the treatment for sleep apnea, and the treatment for insomnia.
People with insomnia are generally more awake at night, so even if they try to fall asleep, it won’t be possible because of the mask and the very machine noises. In such cases, it is recommended patients try cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia.
- People with mild sleep apnea – mild sleep apnea is characterized by only 5 to 10 breathing disturbances throughout the night. In such cases, CPAP machines won’t do much to help reduce such low numbers of breathing obstructions.
However, the treatment shouldn’t be thrown away if the patients recognize improvement in their sleep. Nevertheless, in the majority of mild sleep apnea cases, CPAP machines either worsen the situation or simply become an inconvenience.
3.What are the main equipment parts in CPAP machines?
- Flow generator – the flow generator filters room air and produces positive air pressure. It is usually rather small, produces quiet sounds, and consists of features like heater/humidifier, pressure ramp setting, and exhalation pressure relief.
- Mask or nasal piece – a mask and/or nasal piece delivers the filtered air to the nose. The mask can be either a nose mask, a nose, and a mouth mask or nasal pillow (a nose piece with cones fitting each nostril.
- Airflow hose – the airflow hose connects the flow generator and the mask or nasal piece.
- Humidifier – some units do not come with a built-in humidifier. Other units, that do contain a humidifier, might be harder to cleans, and water might enter the unit.
4. Do you need a prescription to buy a CPAP machine?
A CPAP machine is considered to be a medical device, as regulated by the FDA. It is also considered illegal to sell CPAP machines, CPAP masks, or CPAP humidifiers without a prescription.
Therefore, the answer is; yes, you will need a valid prescription to buy this medical device. You could be able to get a CPAP machine from a private seller, but it is not recommended.
When buying with a prescription, you can be sure you’re getting a machine with proper therapy pressure and a machine that fits your diagnosis.Read More: What Should My CPAP Pressure Be?
5. How long does a CPAP machine last?
The average life expectancy of a CPAP machine is around seven to eight years or approximately 20,000 hours. Some CPAP machines are expected to last few years longer. If properly maintained, your CPAP machine could reach 50,000 hours easily. Therefore, it is important to invest in a good CPAP machine and to maintain it properly.
6. Are CPAP machines dangerous?
CPAP machines are built to be safe, of course. However, there can be a few disadvantages and harms when it comes to using a CPAP machine.
For example, you can experience mask irritation, dry nose or mouth, intolerance to forced airflow, claustrophobia (due to having a mask on the face), and noise intolerance (as many CPAP machines tend to be loud).
If you’re experiencing more harmful disadvantages, make sure to consult a medical professional for further information.
5 Best CPAP Machines in 2021 We Recommend
1. Best portable and convenient: Philips Respironics DreamStation Go
If you’re looking for the best portable and most convenient CPAP machine, the Philips Respironics DreamStation is the right for you. This unit is one of the lightest CPAP machines on the market and meets all the standards for in-flight use. This makes the unit extremely convenient for people who travel regularly and still want to ensure a good, uninterrupted sleep.
The DreamStation Go is not only traveling friendly but is also made to fit everybody’s sleep patterns and sleep behavior. The DreamStation Go is built in such a way that it utilizes modern technology for an easier and more optimized everyday use.
- Automatic air pressure adjustment – the machine follows your personal airflow pattern and adjusts automatically, compensating for the lack of airflow in a second.
- Ultra-flexible 12mm tubing without a tubing adapter – made to be compatible with any mask, from any other mask manufacturer.
- Lightweight DreamStation – weighs only 1.86 pounds.
- Touch and swipe color screen – an intuitive screen that is made to function as modern smartphones.
- Seamless design – the whole DreamStation unit is completely flat (the screen and the power button are all flat so they won’t catch on anything, especially during traveling). Everything is completely integrated into the station, even the filter cartridge.
- No external power brick – with DreamStation there is no external power brick, it is built into the unit to avoid having extra parts and components.
- Humidifier not integrated – the humidifier is not yet available, however, there is a designated location within the DreamStation where the humidifier can be integrated once available.
- Cost of the unit – the DreamStation Go retails at $889, which is definitely on the high-cost spectrum.
- Costly accessories – the DreamStation Go overnight battery is $300, for example.
- Attached USB port
- 12mm micro tubing system for even more convenient transport
- DreamMapper App
- Bluetooth capabilities
- MicroSD card part
- Warranty of 2 years
2. Best premium-grade: ResMed AirSense 10 Autoset
The ResMed CPAP machine is considered to be one of the best quality CPAP machines on the market. The AirSense 10 Autoset is a premium quality unit that adjusts completely to your sleeping pattern as well as therapy needs.
The unit is made to ensure comfortable sleep as it ensures direct and immediate air pressure levels adjustment. The AirSense 10 Autoset is also considered to be one of the most reliable units on the market, as it features advanced airflow levels detection system.
This system ensures optimal therapy and a good night’s sleep for the patient.
- Integrated humidifier – the unit contains a humidifier to ensure a carefree and comfortable sleep. The humidification system work to avoid conditions that can make breathing during sleep difficult, like nasal congestion.
- EasyBreathe motor – because CPAP machines can be loud, the AirSense 10 Autoset comes with an EasyBreathe motor, that ensures the motor is quiet during the night. This way both the user and their partner can sleep in quiet, without any interruptions from the motor.
- LCD screen and user-friendly controls – the user experience with this unit is incredible; the controls are straightforward and intuitive.
- SmartStart function – the unit starts working automatically when you put the mask on, and when you take it off, it stops working automatically as well.
- AutoRamp feature – this feature ensures that the air pressure is released gently during the sleep, unlike other units where the air pressure release is rather high and uncomfortable.
- Adjustable brightness – the unit offers adjustable brightness features; it can also automatically turn its lights off during the night.
- Fairly loud – even though there is an EasyBreathe motor, the unit is still fairly loud. Users have complained about loud humming noise during the night, which has interrupted their already disrupted sleep.
- Only uses power cord – modern CPAP units are built to have both, a battery supply and an electrical outlet. However, the AirSense 10 Autoset only comes with a power cord.
- Difficult to clean – some users have complained about the unit being difficult to clean as it holds less water.
- May not be suitable for traveling or transport, even though it does feature a compact case.
- Automated humidifier and heated tubing controls
- Insurance coverage every 5 years
- The Expiratory Pressure Relief for easier breathing
3. Best affordable: ResMed AirStart 10 CPAP with HumidAir
Probably one of the most affordable, high-quality CPAP machines on the market belongs to ResMed. The AirStart 10 is ResMed’s currently best selling and best budget-conscious model on the market.
The unit is built excellently to occupy as little space as possible, as well as to produce as little noise as possible. It has all the characteristics and features of the high-end CPAP units but comes at an incredibly lower price.
- Incredibly quiet – CPAP machines are known for their noise. They usually help you fall asleep but disturb your sleep with how loud they are. The ResMed AirStart 10 is an incredibly silent model due to its Whisper Quiet system (only 26.6 decibels).
- Built-in heated humidifier – just like all ResMed CPAP units, this one also comes with an integrated humidifier to ensure the best sleep quality.
- AirStart 10 technology – the unit is set at one pressure point, however, it comes with an AirStart 10 pressure relief technology. This technology ensures you exhale easily without waking up.
- Easy to operate – the unit is rather intuitive and built for easy use. The unit comes with an LCD screen to ensure easy control and setup.
- Single-pressure unit – unlike other, auto-adjusting units, the AirStart 10 is a single-pressure unit. The pressure levels are fixed and can only be changed under the doctor’s care. This can be a possible source of discomfort during sleep.
- A burst of pressure – because the unit’s pressure levels are fixed, there might be random and sudden bursts of air pressure that can wake you up and cause breathing discomfort.
- SD card (for data and treatment progress monitoring)
4. Best cost-friendly: DeVilbiss IntelliPAP Auto CPAP Machine
The IntelliPAP Auto CPAP machine is an auto adjustable device that has been in high demand over the last couple of years. Ever since it was launched, it has become a best-seller and a unit people trust.
It is auto adjustable, meaning that it auto-adjusts the air pressure levels, the mask conditions, the airflow, and much more. It regulates everything on its own when detecting a change in breathing or mask condition.
The IntelliPAP comes with the SmartFlex technology which regulates the pressure relief, as well as the individual inspiratory system.
This system ensures a customizable transition between inhaling and exhaling rounds, which in turn provides a good night’s sleep without any interruptions.
- The AutoAdjust system – this system ensures that everything is automatically adjusted (pressure adjustment, adjustable apnea and hypopnea definitions, adjustable pressure limits, and detection of mask condition).
- SmartCode technology- remote checking of data to ensure a better and more comfortable sleep.
- SmartFlex technology – the technology ensures three comfort settings as well as a Flow Rounding system for better pressure adjustment, especially when it comes to the transition between inhaling and exhaling. This means that the likelihood of waking up is very low.
- SmartLink App – the app allows the users to monitor their data by connecting to the unit. The user receives monthly reports, reminders, maintenance help and notifications.
- Easy and intuitive unit – the unit is intuitive and made to provide easy use for everyone. The setup is straightforward and focused on being completely user friendly.
- No battery – the unit only features a power cord, which makes it impossible to use during traveling. It is only intended to be used at home or in clinical environments.
- The SmartLink app – only compatible with new iOS and Android smartphones and tablets.
- Spare filter packs
- An SD card
- Bluetooth capable technology
- Auto Start and Auto Stop system
- Adjustable humidifier controls
5. Best user-friendly – Philips Respironics One REMstar Pro AutoIQ CPAP Machine
Another Philips Respironics CPAP machine on the list is the One REMstar Pro Auto IQ machine.
This CPAP machine is considered to be one of the best auto adjustable and customizable CPAP machines on the market.
It is made to quickly learn about the user’s sleep needs and therapy, and in the first month of use, it follows a breath-by-breath therapy track to ensure the best and most comfortable service.
The unit features a compliance meter breathing detections as well as other auto adjustable settings and features which help ensure comfortable, uninterrupted sleep.
- Auto Trial and Auto Check – these systems ensure information gathering in order to set the best ideal therapy pressure for every single individual user. With such information, the unit automatically adjusts and conforms to the user’s therapy needs and sleep pattern/behavior.
- C-Flex+ – a system intended to provide flow-based pressure relief during the exhalation. This means that the transition between inhaling and exhaling is softened and comfortable, meaning it won’t wake you up.
- The System One resistance control – the unit is able to adjust to different types of masks. The user tells the units which mask they use, and the unit makes necessary adjustments to ensure optimal airflow during sleep.
- Event detection algorithm – collecting data on snoring, periodic breathing, respiratory effort-related arousal, apnea-hypopnea index, leaking, obstructed airway apnea info, and much more. This helps the system come up with the best sleeping therapy and solution for each user.
- Dirty filters – the filter may get dirty quickly and easily, which in turn makes the airflow warmer. These filters might require frequent cleaning or change.
- Frequent change in pressure – the airflow pressure might change frequently, either being too high or too low. This happens because the tubing set can be easily disrupted.
- SD card for data collection
- Built-in Dry Box to eliminate water entering the unit
- Humidity Control system to monitor room temperature, humidity, and environment changes
Other 3 Products You Can Also Consider
Ever heard of refurbished CPAP equipment? That is the type of CPAP machines and CPAP equipment that has been previously owned by someone and then purchased by a licensed CPAP supplier.
So, if you find CPAP machines too expensive, there is a way for you to buy high-quality CPAP units for a really low price. Here’s what we recommend;
This sleek and high-quality unit comes with Climate Control humidifier and ClimateLine heated tubing.
It is enabled and safe for in-flight use and travel. The unit is incredibly quiet (only 24 decibels). Its retail price is usually $700, but because it is refurbished, you can get it for $399.
This is an excellent deal where you’ll get an incredible, high-end unit for a really great price.
Another excellent CPAP unit is the F&S SleepStyle. The unit features minimized condensation and maximized humidity technology.
It is considered to be one of the most effective CPAP therapy units and really shines under changing conditions. The unit usually retails at $499, but because it is refurbished, you can get it for only $99.95.
This excellent deal can ensure you have a great unit at your disposal, while also saving a bunch of money.
Also Read: 9 Alternatives to CPAP Treatment
How To Clean The CPAP Machine?
CPAP machines need to be properly cleaned and sterilized before each use. The respiratory equipment can contain hazardous debris and bacteria, so proper cleaning is a must.
Here’s a quick insight on how you can clean the machine the easiest and best way;
- Make sure the CPAP machine is unplugged from the power source.
- Now, disconnect the air tube and the mask from the machine.
- It is also important to disassemble the mask into its respective parts; usually the headgear, the frame, and the cushion).
- You can clean the mask parts in a sink or a tub filled with warm water and some soap. Make sure to rub gently and rinse thoroughly with clean water. Avoid using strong detergents and cleaning products, since they can leave a harmful residue which could be inhaled later during the therapy.
- You can clean the air tube in the same way; use warm water and gentle soap and make sure to rinse thoroughly with clean water. The same applies to the humidifier.
- Make sure to place the mask parts, humidifier, and air tube on a flat surface to dry. Avoid drying out yourself or by placing it next to a heat source or in the direct sunlight.
- The mask, tube, and humidifier should be clean, clear, and have no discoloration.